DOWN WITH BORING
ISSUE 47 · SEPTEMBER 2020 · READDORK.COM
** P L U S **
Arlo Park Cavetow s! Chloe Mo n! rion iDKHOW do! mxmtoon! Tate Mc ! The DriveRae! rE Wallows! ra!
NO FESTIVALS. NO SHOWS. 2020 MIGHT SEEM LIKE A WIPE OUT, BUT IT COULDN’T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. STARRING DOMINIC FIKE, AND THE ACTS TO BRIGHTEN UP THE REMAINDER OF THE WEIRDEST YEAR.
September 2020. THIS MONTH...
26. Arlo Parks
Rising fast and showing no signs of stopping - the future looks bright for Arlo Parks.
Games of six degrees of separation are easy when bedroom pop's best connected talent is part of the equation.
34. Chloe Moriondo
Young, engaged and with a string of successes behind her already, Chloe Moriondo has the world at her feet.
38. Dominic Fike With his much-anticipated debut album now out in the world for all to hear, Dominic Fike has arrived.
46. I Don't Know How But They Found Me
Being stuck in our homes might be suffocating for most of us, but when you're a bedroom pop sensation like mxmtoon, you may as well get creative.
54. Tate McRae
Talent shows, touring the world and going viral with a song she knocked together in less time than it takes to make a decent lunch, Tate McRae is heading for the top.
58. The Driver Era
The Driver Era have been bubbling away with their eclectic rock leanings for a little while now, and it's about to hit fever-pitch.
With debut album 'Nothing Happens' behind them, Braeden, Cole and Dylan haven't be sitting about twiddling their thumbs...
Grainy VHS footage? Check. Mysterious figures loitering in the background? Check. Sparkling pop jams with depth and meaning? Check, check and check. It's iDKHOW's time to shine.
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September 2020 | readdork.com | Down With Boring
Ø6 Intro 26 Features
Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden Associate Editor Ali Shutler Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young
Scribblers Abigail Firth, Aleksandra Brzezicka, Dan Harrison, Dillon Eastoe, Dominic Allum, Jack Press, Jake Hawkes, Jamie MacMillan, Jasleen Dhindsa, Jessica Goodman, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin, Tyler Damara Kelly Snappers Adriana Sein, Alex Kurunis, Anthony Pham, Ayman Chaudhry, Connor Laws, Fiona Garden, Harry Ware, Korrie Powell, Lauren Perry, Matt Barnes, Michael Hill, Patrick Gunning, Pooneh Ghana, Sarah Louise Bennett PUBLISHED FROM WELCOMETOTHEBUNKER.COM UNIT 10, 23 GRANGE ROAD, HASTINGS, TN34 2RL All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which The Bunker Publishing Ltd holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Dork or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.
2Ø Hype 66 Incoming
o, Dearest Reader. Allow me to become a little self-referential re: music magazines for a second. Last month saw the final issue of the much-loved Q (RIP, sniff sniff), and with it came the think pieces. Oh, the think pieces. You know the ones - penned by middle-aged men who once got a regular pay cheque from the traditional WH Smiths stocked big boys, proclaiming that this is The Death Of Print Music Magazines. For them, maybe it is maybe they stopped looking for anything new a decade or more ago. But generally, no. And politely, do stop it. Quite obviously, we believe in print mags - but especially in the world of music. Yes, that world is changing, and yes, that means a different role than 20 years or more ago, but they can do something special. It isn't online vs print - that's a battle line drawn by people who ask how before why. Minds less bothered with nuance, who think
the format is everything and content is just a formula that could be applied to either. It's as nonsensical as comparing apples to ostriches. The print magazine can be exciting in ways that online can't, and visa versa. This month, we're out to show you just one of them. See, as well as our commitment to an industrial level of nonsense, the music magazine finds its energy as much in the sparks between pages as it does in the individual articles printed on them. While digital can be quick, immediate and responsive to what is happening right now, the combination of ideas, personalities, faces and expressions print creates as we flick through only heightens the excitement in a way that a 'click the link, close the window' online economy struggles to replicate. This month, we've got nine covers. Nine. Each one awarded to an act we find impossibly exciting
right now. Musicians who are engaging with audiences, saying something great or simply lightening our moods with solid gold bops. We've got *deep breath* Arlo Parks, Cavetown, Chloe Moriondo, Dominic Fike, I Don't Know How But They Found Me, mxmtoon, Tate McRae, The Driver Era and Wallows - a group united by a vibe of something bright and new. Any of them could hold a Dork cover on their own, but combined they're a refresh button on a year that - without any form of live music or festivals to enjoy - has been deeply, deeply weird. Like the arguments about the living death of print media, music isn't just about where and how we consume it, but about the energy it creates. Just try and deny this lot their moment in the spotlight. We dare you.
With their new album 'Re-Animator', they're taking on human consciousness.
The Lemon Twigs
As one half of dance-pop sensations AlunaGeorge, Aluna has ruled the charts. Now it's time for her to break out on her own.
With their new album, The Lemon Twigs are looking closer to home.
Breaking out from her work behind-the-scenes of many a pop success, the spotlight is now firmly on Victoria Monet.
The Magic Gang One of this summer's many delayed records, The Magic Gang's new 'un is worth the wait.
Baby Queen is challenging the preconceptions of pop.
You might not know his name just yet, but you'll definitely know Curtis Waters' internet smashhit 'Stunnin'' - and it's just the beginning.
ON THE DORK STEREO THIS MONTH... BTS
Given you know Dork feeds of raw, unfiltered buzz and excitement, is it any real wonder we've been listening to k-pop sensations BTS' first fully English language single? It's a proper pop mega bop.
Confidence Man Chloe Moriondo London First Class Bitch I Want To Be With You Grammar Confidence Man's debut album was a sassy spectacular. Now they're back with a brand new track, 'First Class Bitch', which drips with neon 90s cool. Ridiculously massive fun.
She's already on the cover of one of this month's editions, but Chloe's latest track is just further evidence she's going places fast. Expect to see a lot more from her very, very soon indeed.
Baby It's You
Back with new material, London Grammar remain a classy outfit. With those iconic, brilliant vocals in full effect, there's something special going on here.
Running Into You
The first track from Wakefield's finest's latest full-length, 'Running Into You' is textbook lean, mean, happily unclean Cribs. A scuzzy, fuzzy wall of guitar with hidden pop sensibilities. Glorious.
ALUNA – RENAISSANCE “PURE ECSTASY” NME
“SHEER PERFECTION” WONDERLAND
THE DEBUT SOLO ALBUM FROM ALUNA FRANCIS OUT 28TH AUGUST @ALUNAGEORGE / @ALUNAAA
Intro. THE BEATING HEART OF P OP.
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Intro. Biffy Clyro have a new headline run for 2021. ‘The Fingers Crossed Tour’ will feature six intimate dates in support of ‘A Celebration of Endings’. Dates are on readdork.com now.
Laura Marling is one of the performers at this year’s BBC Proms, taking the stage on 6th September live from the Royal Albert Hall, with Rob Moose and the 12 Ensemble string group.
Everything Everything have never been shy of a grand idea, and, with their new album 'Re-Animator', they're taking on human consciousness. By: Steven Loftin.
hen it comes to long-standing Manchester art-rock faves Everything Everything, things are rarely simple.
It takes around ten minutes for Dork’s chat with frontman Jonathan Higgs to turn a bit ‘existential’. “To think that maybe some people aren’t conscious in their lives, or they exist in a comatose state of lowered consciousness or heightened consciousness? That’s really interesting,” he ruminates. Of course, this isn’t an off-the-cuff rumination. The band’s fifth outing was led, in part, by Jonathan’s deep dive into hefty 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by American researcher in psychology and all-round clever-clogs, Julian Jaynes. Everything Everything aren’t strangers to such bulky ideas, throughout their career they’ve given everything a go, distilling grand ideas of science and politics, into leftfield guitar pop that will do all it can to dance around your expectation. For their fifth outing, ‘ReAnimator’, the grand ideas are still there, but this time Jonathan is taking a step back from anything too politically charged, instead opting for the more universal and
relatable “talking about the human experience.” “I’m a bit sick of the Western view of everything and the squabbles we have in the politics,” he confesses. “It’s around me all the time, and I’m bored of it. I’ve heard everyone’s opinion on it so many times, I didn’t feel like throwing my hat into the ring. I did it all before it happened. I don’t care what you think about Brexit, I don’t care about Trump, I don’t care about all these things anymore. I just want to celebrate the good things.” This decision, while fuelled
“I like it when people go, what the hell is this?” Jonathan Higgs
by the incessant stream of news and opinion, fact and fiction, is still littered with the knowledge that “you can’t just do songs about that stuff and not expect people to go, ‘What the hell are you talking about? This is not for music’, or whatever.” “There’s always a challenge to try and get lofty ideas into hook-laden pop songs,” Jonathan continues. “To enjoy it without knowing all that stuff. The bicameral mind thing is quite complex and quite sciency and very un-pop music, but I think there’s so much in it that was relatable to, you know, hearing a voice and calling it God. Or hearing a voice, and it’s your own voice, and calling that God. Or you know, finding your inner inspiration or having a divided self. Sometimes feeling as though you don’t know who you are, or you are contradictory, or you believe two things at once that can’t possibly live together.” It’s this essence that lives deep inside the sound of Everything Everything. They’re all about juxtaposing the righteous with the arty - a pressure cooker of a creative space. Everything stems from an idea that speaks to Jonathan, in this case, “particularly the following a voice, following a path.” “Making your own path is
quite a universal anxiety for people who don’t, especially in these days where politics is so rampantly turned up. It’s like, ‘Oh if you don’t follow this identity, then you must be that identity’, and I think a lot of people, deep down, they don’t feel like either. They feel a bit stretched, sort of on show; [like] they’ll be revealed and exposed by their true feelings, and just go along with one that they’re supposed to be part of, the tribe they’re supposed to be part of, but they don’t really believe it.” More rumination on the horizon, Jonathan ponders: “Is it better to be black or white, or is grey, okay? Sometimes you see people who’re being grey in their arcs succeeding. It’s just all questions, isn’t it? I don’t really like coming down on one side of it. I just like throwing the questions in the air. “That theory I thought was really cool - the miracle of life and consciousness, and thinking about how we came to be, and what separates us from the animals or from being like living dead - it’s hard, walking a tightrope, and if you start to think about it, you fail and fall off. So when you are doing it, you’re actually going unconscious, and I think it’s fascinating that we live so much of our lives in an unconscious state. And if
Fontaines D.C. have added more dates to their upcoming tour. The band will hit the road in support of ‘A Hero’s Death’, which hit number 2 in the UK Album Chart on release. Find the dates on readdork.com.
HRRNNK!!! Here is ‘the news’
One half of a dance-pop sensation, Aluna is ready to break out on her own. p.10
The Lemon Twigs With their new album, The Lemon Twigs are looking closer to home. p.12
Already a superstar behind the scenes, now it's time for Victoria Monet to take the limelight. p.14
The Magic Gang
Second album 'Death of the Party' seems pretty on the nose now, huh? p.16 readdork.com 7.
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we try to engage our brains, we suddenly fail. That’s really interesting.” ‘Re-Animator’, in itself, is an album that soaks up the sun. It has an aurora of hope that knows there’s a new day coming. The “human experience” Jonathan mentions, is the force of a mind opened, asking others to join in and understand what he’s found. “I’ve got lots of nieces and nephews, and a couple of members of the band have had babies, so that’s changed the way we all feel about the world in a lot of ways,” he says. “The new dads have specifically said to me, ‘Can we be a bit more positive with the record because we don’t want to keep making ‘end of the world’ music?’” “I just felt less bound by everything that’s gone on. Like I say, ‘Get To Heaven’ and ‘A Fever Dream’ were kind of like warning records, and the stuff I talked about sort of happened after. It felt very depressing to make another list of things that I think will happen and then watch them all happen. I said my piece on all that stuff; this constant misery drains you over time.” When Dork last caught up with Jonathan, and drummer Michael Spearman, on a golf cart in the warms of Latitude last year, writing for the album was already well on its way. The band were trying to figure out how to make the process more challenging, since not only is this the year of their fifth album, but it’s also been ten years since they emerged with the glitching, art-pop exposè ‘Man Alive’. Musing on how they’ve decidedly changed over the last decade, Jonathan says: “It’s been easy easier and easier as time goes on. We get more confident, we get better at what we do, and we get more leeway to do it, and more encouragement to do it from fans and critics. This stuff we try, we get a good reaction to. We never get people saying, ‘Oh, they’ve made that album again’ and we never get people saying, ‘I’m so sick of them never changing’. So that’s, I think, all you can hope for after 10 years.
Beabadoobee announced the release date and tracklisting for her upcoming debut album. ‘Fake It Flowers’ is due out on 16th October, with the news arriving alongside her fab new single ‘Sorry’.
“It’s just all questions, isn’t it? I like throwing the questions in the air” Jonathan Higgs
Sports Team have teamed up with Signature Brew for their own lager, Long Hot Summer. It’s billed as “light, crisp and floral” with “subtle lemon notes, delivering an aroma hinting at freshly cut grass.”
“We certainly feel confident about ourselves; that’s probably why we’re able to do this so much. I mean, the next record we’re already thinking about obviously because we haven’t got any shows.” To keep the cogs turning, it’s all about that forward motion, and for Everything Everything that looks like being cynics about themselves. “We’re quite critical of ourselves, maybe a bit too much,” Jon chuckles. “If we hear ourselves repeating, we will just slap it down. We throw a lot of demos away. We chuck things out if they sound too like the bands that we love, or we think they’re a bit lazy or it just feels too like us.” Of course, when you’re so focused on being deliberately outrageous, when you really want to subvert expectation, what do you do? You, er, go normal. “Yeah, well, putting it last is like the final, final insult,
after all that.” Jonathan nods to the album’s closing track, and latest single, ‘Violent Sun’. By Everything Everything’s standards, it’s justifiably upbeat and positive. It’s the synth-airiness of The Horrors mixed with the tarmac-driving direction of a latter-day Kings of Leon. “It’s a song that I’ve wanted to write for a long time,” Jon admits. “I want to write something that gives you that feeling of like relentless energy, and it’s supposed to give you the feeling of time running out, and desperateness, in a relatable way like it’s the last song of the night. “You know, the night’s about to end, but you feel so good, and it’s booming in your ears. It doesn’t that sound like us, which is what I like about it so much. It sounds like another band, and that’s exactly what I want from us on every album. I don’t believe in consistency. I like it when people go, what the
Rina Sawayama has rescheduled her Dynasty tour to 2021. The run - in support of her not-superlong-released debut album ‘Sawayama’ - will kick off on 14th March.
hell is this? Or, why do they sound like this now? I love that feeling.” It’s impossible to chat to a band these days without the pandemic cropping up, more-so when, despite being completed well in advance, it feels like this new album is eerily on-topic. “Everything on the record feels somehow tied to the events of the pandemic,” he muses, “even though it was written before. You can’t help but contextualise it against that. It does feel particularly significant putting ‘Violent Sun’ at the end of the record. Like, ‘Okay, off you go. You’ve got a new start, you’ve got a new chance to make something happen now in this new world’.” Which is what the world waits for with bated breath; for the lights on this darkened floor to come on, so we can feel the urgency of change. P Everything Everything’s
album ‘Re-Animator’ is out 11th September.
All Killer Sandwich Filler.
WHAT DOES YOUR FAVOURITE POP STAR LIKE TO PUT IN THEIR SARNIE? THE BIG QUESTIONS, ANSWERED.
FEE’S FAVOURITE CHICKEN (OR CHICKEN-LESS) CLUB
THE CRIBS HAVE
by Fee Booth, Bloxx
s aware as I am that I probably should probably make this as basic and self explanatory as possible, I’m worried I might do the complete opposite. I don’t really indulge in sandwich making but when I do I go all out, and do something very similar to this recipe that I’m constructing from the confines of my bedroom! (However my Irish family endeavour to make the best sandwiches for any guest!).”
INGREDIENTS: + Lidl white panini / or crusty loaf (don’t be a snob Lidl is actually great) if you live in North London or somewhere with a Wenzel’s, I’d suggest investing in a loaf from there because their bread is insane!
RELEASED A FUN NEW BOP, AND ANNOUNCED THEIR EIGHTH ALBUM
+ M&S Piri piri sliced chicken (pre-cooked): okay well this is where I’d suggest going and getting the high quality stuff, Marks have the best pre-cooked meats out there. If you’re veggie, try out their falafel bites torn up or some quorn chicken slices, if you’re vegan try the Linda McCartney southern fried chicken burger, I feel like that would work wonders here! + Iceberg lettuce: the ONLY lettuce. + Hellmann’s Mayo: you know the drill, find your suitable alternative (sriracha mayo is ok). + Sliced tomato - just one piece per slice because it gets a bit soggy. + Two slices of cucumber: again it’s wet. + Pizza mozzarella/ cheddar (or violife or any alternative): pizza moz is important because it’s less wet, it’s usually square and the moisture is drawn out, find it in most cheese aisles.
+ Salt/pepper/garlic powder: to taste, don’t be a clown. INSTRUCTIONS 1. First step would be to lay out your ingredients and work out what you’d like to prepare first. I think perfect preparation lends to an easier construction of the sandwich. 2. If, unlike me, you can work with noise in the background and you need some feel-good tunes on in the background, I’d suggest listening to the BLOXX - Complete playlist on Spotify. Easy listening you know. 3. Cut your bread into slices however you prefer, based on what bread you decided to go for. The Wenzel’s crusty bread is best in thicker slices. 4. Lay down some roughly sliced pizza mozzarella, and some thin slices of mature cheddar on one slice. 5. Lay out around half a pack of the sliced piri piri chicken or vegan/veggie
alternative on top of your cheese. 6. Place a few leaves of lettuce, (only the finest and crunchiest parts of the lettuce) on top of your chicken along with the tomato and cucumber (pat these as dry as possible first). 7. Spread some mayo on the currently empty side of the bread (and a little on top of the pile on the other slice if you’re like me and love a good sauce). 8. Sprinkle a TOUCH of semi-coarse sea salt and pepper and, when I say tiny I mean, imagine that I mean salt it by individual grains of salt, be very cautious not to over salt. 9. Cut in half from corner to corner and eat that thing. Have a dipping pot of hot sauce/mayo if you so desire. 10. And there you go, it’s a sandwich that I’ve made once and will probably endeavour to make again. If you try it, let me know what you think. P
It's called ‘Night Network’ and will be released on 13th November; self-produced and recorded at the Foo Fighters' Studio 606 in Los Angeles in the spring/ summer of 2019. The news arrives with a socially-distanced video for comeback single 'Running Into You', which features actor (and former member of fellow Leeds band 10,000 Things) Sam Riley. "Well, we've been gone for the last couple of years," the band comment, "so we wanted to channel the spirit of the inevitable 'Cribs-mania' which we are sure the news of our comeback will precipitate... hence the full on "media takeover" theme of the video... "It was great to work with Sam again, our relationship with him goes all the way back to our very first headline tour which we undertook along with his band 10,000 Things and we have considered him part of the family ever since. It's an honour to have him involved." P readdork.com 9.
A U As one half of dance-pop sensations AlunaGeorge, Aluna has ruled the charts. Now it's time for her to break out on her own. By: Martyn Young.
n a time of enormous social and cultural upheaval with a feeling of revolution in the air, Aluna Francis is ready to make a statement with an incendiary dance floor call to arms.
‘Renaissance’ is the sound of an artist with a lot to say that points towards a positive future of dancefloor inclusivity and highlights the truly transcendent power of global dance music in all its varied forms. The album arrives more than a decade into Aluna’s musical career where she has been making bangers a plenty with her musical partner George (don’t worry, they’re still going strong) as well as collaborating with other like-minded artists. It was time for a change though and time for Aluna to shake things up. “I just needed to challenge myself a little bit more,” she begin,s. “When you’ve been working with someone successfully for a few years you tend to get a little bit comfortable. Me and George are serious creatures of comfort, my god, we know exactly what we’re doing. It’s a collaboration and a different style of writing. It’s a shared experience. That’s great if you’ve chosen to do that, but then I thought, what if I wanted to choose to be in control of everything?” After working with someone so closely for so long, there were naturally
ST UF F YOU NEED TO KNOW T HIS M ONT H...
doubts, but it quickly came apparent that Aluna was on a mission to create something special. “I don’t want to not do that because I’m scared,” she continues. “What came out really surprised me. I had a feeling, but I didn’t really know that if I looked at all of my cultural heritage, musically and ethnically and put it all together in one space, I couldn’t be sure that it would work but I was hoping it would. I think it definitely does. The record that I made takes you on a global journey of dance music. It sounded like a crazy nightmare, a catastrophe of too many ingredients, but I made it work because I really gave it the time and energy and focus.” If anything defines the album, it’s about drawing on Aluna’s cultural and musical heritage and encapsulating it into the most exuberant high energy package. “I had two visceral experiences that I was inspired by,” she explains about two moments that get right to the heart of the record’s primal thrills. “I went to a club, there was a black female DJ, and there were lots of black women on the dance floor. Everyone was sweating and free, and for the first time in a normal public space, I took my hair out of whatever controlling spell it was in, and I let it out. It felt so normal to just let your hair down. Why do I feel so much more comfortable here than anywhere else in my life? I need to capture this. It’s not just about being with black women, it was about this intersection of music, the style of music, the way it created a sense of freedom.” Another experience highlighted how Aluna created an album that spoke to people just like her; young black women in love with dance music and determined to enjoy themselves on their terms. “I’ve got a dual memory of performing at Midnight BBQ festival where it was raining, and I was on last. It had been raining for two hours, and it was muddy and gross,” she laughs. “At the front, I had a tonne of black women. If you’re investing in your hair as a black woman,
Stormzy has rescheduled his ‘H.I.T.H.’ tour. The run is in support of his recentlyreleased Mercury-nominated album ‘Heavy is the Head’, and will now kick off on 2nd April 2021 in Dublin.
the last thing you want to do is drench that thing in water. It’s expensive to have your hair done! These girls were spending money on this experience right now. They waited right until the end. This was so important to me, most of the people had left, the whole festival had gone home, but I had my stronghold at the front. It was very moving.” ‘Renaissance’ is an album for those who want to stay and party. For those who want to make their voices heard. For those that want to experience different styles, sounds and cultures. “I wanted to take the expected euro-centric style of house music and pull that together with garage, afrobeat and dancehall, with pop writing to tell stories in the way that I like to tell stories,” she says. “Instead of that sounding like a bag of cats, I wanted it to be a harmonious single purring cat,” she laughs. Despite the high energy in your face exuberance and confidence of the
“If big changes have to be made you’ve got to be brave and do it now. There’s no time to waste” Aluna Francis
Not content with serving up huge tracks, Ashnikko is continuing her ascent by teaming up with Employed To Serve on a heavy metal version of ‘Cry’. Check it out on readdork.com now.
album, there’s an emotional introspection at work. It considers love, relationships and what it feels like to be a black woman. “If you listen to ‘Surrender’ and ‘I’ve Been Starting To Love All The Things I Hate’ you get a sense of where I’m at as a black woman,” states Aluna. “’Surrender’ is about how navigating this world as a black woman takes its toll on your heart. I found myself in that place where you want to be in a fairytale where I have met you, and I love you, and you love me, but the wounds and the scars are so much that it feels like the biggest hurdle in your life just to simply be in love.” “As a black woman we have to fight battles over and over, and there’s always that moment between battles where you’re like I hate everything I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to lie down,” she continues. “Then there’s that moment when you’re like, you know what, I’m glad the world is against me, I’m glad you put me through this because that’s only going to make me stronger. I like it, bring it on. Bring on the mountains for me to climb.” Throughout the process of making the album, one key life-changing moment was Aluna falling pregnant. “I started this album, and then I fell pregnant, and I was like, oh shit, that’s it then? Nobody likes a pregnant woman. The world doesn’t appreciate a working mother. There’s all these assumptions that are made about mothers, who they’re supposed to be. Anyone who has children is seen as less able to bring the fire in some way. Everyone is going to look at me differently. The music industry, especially for black women, is so allconsuming that people end up taking time out from the sheer amount of effort that you can’t put into the hustle. I said no, I’m going to call on the people that work with me and we’re all going to rally together. They started it and said no Aluna, you can do this. You need to carry on. I carried on as normal until I was 8 months, and I
Aluna. Plus tiny horses. was performing on stage at 9 months.” The past few months have starkly highlighted the need for change in the world - the need to support and amplify positive voices and fight systemic injustices. Within the music industry, Aluna has been campaigning for streaming platforms to give due credit to the heritage of dance music while expanding the genre to be more culturally and racially exclusive. “Music is never going to go away so as an artist I always invest in its future so I feel that as a business we should invest in the future of music and look after the ecosystem that you’re feeding off of,” she explains. “The dance genre is an unhealthy genre. It does not reflect society in an aspirational way or even just what society is. It’s a weird uncultured bubble,” she says. The need for change is pressing and urgent. “If big changes have to be made you’ve got to be brave and do it now. There’s no time to waste,” she says powerfully. “I would like to see a big shift in the genre to include global dance music, for e.g. dancehall, afrobeat and all the various sub-genres from around the world be incorporated into mainstream dance. I don’t think the title dance/electronic is relevant anymore. I think it limits the scope of the genre.” Post-COVID the impetus for change should be stronger than ever, and it’s something Aluna passionately believes in. “I want to see that reflected in live scenes and
The Vaccines’ keyboardist Timothy Lanham has shared his new T Truman tune, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’. It’s a melancholy cut from his upcoming debut solo EP ‘Born To Be Right’, due out on 25th September.
festival line-ups. I do not want to see the segregation of the festivals any longer. It’s absolutely embarrassing. Mono-cultured dance gatherings are very out of date. When you see the cultural makeup of people who marched for George Floyd you didn’t see that, so why have we got festivals with all white people called dance festivals? The lineups have to be changed. Everybody needs to get into the history of dance music and make it normal information.” ‘Renaissance’ is an album fully powered by Aluna’s illuminating, considered and passionate vision. A vision born out of frustrations at the sort of prejudice, misogyny and injustices that she is looking to tear down. She describes an example of the sort of thing she has had to deal with in her role as a producer. “I’m not going to sing on THAT! You think I just come in and sit on top of it like a cherry; I’m not a fucking cherry!” She laughs as she talks about how previously producers wouldn’t value her musical and production skills instead considering her ‘just the singer’. Fortunately, those days are gone. It’s been a long journey, but Aluna Francis is right at the top of her game ready to take flight. “I have to pinch myself that music is still how I make my living. Making music is so indescribably lifeaffirming and I think it saved my life. I weaved my own mini revolutions and fights and battles within my music. Being a black woman in dance music is a defiance in itself.” That defiance has been a driving force through everything she has ever done, and ‘Renaissance’ is Aluna’s most defiant and confident statement yet. “I’m most proud of standing by my own personal desire to create harmony between genres and styles of music that are currently segregated in the real world and showing why that’s silly,” she concludes. “My album is unity in sonic form. It’s aspirational and futuristic.” P Aluna’s debut
solo album ‘Renaissance’ is out 28th August.
ST UF F YOU NEED TO KNOW T HIS M ONT H...
Intro. Bloxx have announced plans for a live run next April. The band will kick off in Nottingham on 15th April, finishing up with their biggest headline show to date at London’s Heaven.
Willie J Healey has rescheduled his headline tour to next spring. The dates which include a London show at Lafayette - will now take place in April and May. Find the dates on readdork.com.
K-pop supergroup SuperM have released their huge new single, '100'. It arrives alongside both a flashy new video and a pre-order for their upcoming debut album 'Super One', due on 25th September.
here’s no one quite like The Lemon Twigs. Still an
embellishment of sixties and seventies baroque fashion and sound, modernity rarely touches the devilishly creative brothers, Michael and Brian D’Addario. Having to push the release of their third album back - not an unusual story at this point - with that came some new paths; they got to touch it up a bit, released a live album, and even began the next chapter all before ‘Songs For The General Public’ is, well, in the hands of the general public. “I’m really happy that we had that opportunity,” Brian says. “Because now I couldn’t be happier with it. When the last release date was set, there were a few things that I wasn’t sure about, but I thought I was in this position of just being too close to it. Now I’ve realised that that’s a fallacy and you can actually get it exactly the way you want it.” Exactly the way they want it is how The Lemon Twigs do things; they’re the sort of band who live by their own rules. “When I hear [the album] it seems like every track is presenting a very forthright opinion or outlook,” Brian continues. “I feel that every song is very confident in its intent, and it’s very clear what the songs about.” Chatting to the band (separately, they prefer it this way apparently) the two
cogs make themselves known while working harmoniously in tandem. The growth the two brothers have gone through since boarding the hype train back in 2016 for their debut ‘Do Hollywood’, is from two plucky and determined creative minds into outliers of a pop scene that doesn’t quite know where it belongs. For their third outing, they’ve delved into exploring and examining society, namely just telling stories, that could either be “from a personal point” or just “channelling what is natural,” Michael ponders. “I’m just very human, and I’m like a humanist or something... I don’t discriminate against the characters in the songs. If they’re characters, or if they’re me, or if they’re an extension of me, it doesn’t matter; they can think or feel however they want to feel. I’m not really worried about how people perceive this person in the song because I think that all types of people exist, and it doesn’t matter if they are good or bad.” “If it’s art, it doesn’t matter. If it’s real life, it matters, but it’s art. The people who are speaking are not necessarily good. Sometimes they’re not me or whatever it is, but you know that’s a kind of a conscious, natural thing.” Brian nods to a similar idea: “It’s a lot about people’s internal and interpersonal
struggles. You end up hearing a lot of things that you might hear in real life, but there’s a grandiosity to it, that isn’t very conversational, you know?” Given the two have been touring for a fair whack during their career, and they seem like the kind of people determined in their drive to just enjoy the ride, are these things that they’ve heard on that long and winding road, particularly ‘Moon’, which celebrates doing what you wanna do? “It comes from being on the road a little bit,” Michael muses. “Because you’re going to these towns, and you see the kids. It’s an interesting archetype. It’s one that I could relate to when I was younger, and then I see it happen, and I think that maybe they should have their little anthem. That’s kind of derogatory or something,” he chuckles. “But it’s okay because I was that, but I don’t know. I guess that you’re right in that sense.” Attributing the rest of the songs to being based on “whoever I didn’t meet,” according to Michael, is in itself is a grand idea. Trying to convey outdated mindsets might be difficult to portray, but the brothers have never been ones to shy away from touching upon the grand and complex. To follow up their debut they created a conceptual album, ‘Go To School’, a self-professed “musical by The Lemon Twigs” based upon the story of a
Intro. LANY have announced their new album, 'mama’s boy'. Their third fulllength, it'll arrive on 2nd October via Polydor Records.
Declan McKenna is going to perform a one-off live-streamed album launch show.The gig will be aired live from London's Lafayette on 4th September.
Easy Life have rescheduled two shows in London and Edinburgh for 2021. The band will play at the Roundhouse on 22nd April and Liquid Room on 18th April.
“I’m not interested in making music for musicians” Michael D’Addario
Their second album told an oddball tale of a chimpanzee raised as a human boy, but with their new 'un, The Lemon Twigs are looking closer to home. By: Steven Loftin. Photography: Michael Hill.
chimpanzee raised as a boy, which also left them with a lot of lessons learned. “Our last album for me was essentially about innocence. It was about coming to a fork in the road with innocence,” Brian muses. “I guess this one is sort of like what happens after that. It’s more about looking at reality and taking it at face value.” “With a concept, you’re attached to this thing you’ve got to stay true to the whole time. It’s really not my line of work,” Michael says. “Other people can commit to a story for a year, I chalked it up to ‘I tried that, and I don’t know how much I’ve personally enjoyed it’, and what’s the point if you’re not personally enjoying it after the fact?” “It was pretty insane to do an experiment on the second record,” Michael adds, “but I mean, that’s what it was, and we were quite young and did not think of things on a very large scale. We thought of things, you know in our world, ‘We want to do this right now, we’re gonna do it right now’.” The brothers are unafraid of biting off more they can chew on the quest for satiating their creative drive. “We didn’t think you know, ‘Oh, this many people are gonna listen to it…’ We thought of that a little bit, but it didn’t play into what we were making, which is a good thing, but it was exhausting. I don’t ever
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really want to work that hard on something that takes that much attention span again. I want more immediate. I like immediacy.” Immediacy is certainly the order of the day on ‘Songs...’. It’s filled with some of the duos most energetic and lifeaffirming tracks, channelling some real seventies, rocking and rolling, the night will never end vibes. But as with all great things, “it was very disorganised in the beginning,” Brian admits. “I was working on a solo record, Michael was working on an almost-completed solo record, and we had an initial group of 10 or 12 songs that we thought the next Lemon Twigs record was going to be. But we just kept working sort of beyond that. Of those, probably three of them were ended up on the album. “Working on these tracks we started to get an idea of what the identity the next record we wanted to put out was, and it was centrally just the most direct sort of the visceral song. Now looking at all of the unfinished songs we have, a lot of them are very delicate.” It’s these delicate songs that will potentially make up the next Lemon Twigs outing, but ‘Songs…’ is an album that relishes in the upbeat and the driven. “When I look at this one, there’s only one or two that I would say fit into that category.” Truthfully, no matter what brush you want to tar the D’Addario brothers with, they don’t care. They’re a force to be reckoned with, who will create what they want to create, and that might be making a musical based around a chimpanzee, or it might mean exploring society on a granular, warts ‘n’ all level. “I’m not interested in making music for musicians or whatever,” Michael exclaims. “I mean, certain people have accused us of being you know musicians’ musicians or whatever, but these are really true pop songs.” P The Lemon
Twigs’ album ‘Songs For The General Public’ is out now.
ST UF F YOU NEED TO KNOW T HIS M ONT H...
Intro. Will Joseph Cook has confirmed his second album, 'Something To Feel Good About'. The record's due for release on 27th November, preceded by the title-track, which is streaming 'now'.
Sea Girls have added two new shows to their upcoming tour. The new dates will see them play Birmingham's Hare and Hounds and Cardiff's CLWB Ifor Bach in January.
Hugh Harris from The Kooks has announced his debut solo album. The self-titled record is due 11th September via AWAL, preceded by new cut 'Curious Illusions' - give it a listen on readdork.com now.
"It feels like a comm fight the fight “F
Breaking out from her work behind-the-scenes of many a pop success, the spotlight is now firmly on Victoria Monet. By: Abigail Firth. 14. DORK
uck a fantasy, this your motherfuckin' moment," Victoria Monet sings on the hook of 'Moment', the opener of her debut album 'Jaguar'. It feels a little ironic for an artist a decade into her career to be humming about getting her moment (well, she's also on about banging, but whatever), but she's finally shining alone and not letting any of her other commitments overshadow her. And what an absolute STAR she is. Her patience has paid off on this project though – this is only the first instalment of it, BTW, she'll have you waiting for the rest – developing a sound that is truly her own. On 'Jaguar', she blends soulful, 70s Motown sounds with very 2020 lyrics (a Fortnite reference in a sexy song? She works it) and some 90s R&B influences sprinkled in for good measure. "They all feel very retro and cohesive," says Victoria. "You'll find different moods and intentions in each part. So part one, the message is really about freedom – freedom of sexuality, freedom of speech, freedom of sound." Of course, we're virtually face to face for our chat. She's in her Los Angeles home, the city she moved to in her late teens to join girl group Purple Reign, that signed to Motown but ended up getting dropped before releasing any music. It was then that she got her start in songwriting,
landing her first credit on a Diddy Dirty Money album track in 2010. She's since penned songs for Ariana Grande (including co-writes on most of 'thank u, next'), Fifth Harmony, Nas (a personal dream achieved), Chloe x Halle, and more. "When I moved to LA, I was in a girl group. I had auditioned for a girl group for this superproducer, who produced for a lot of my favourite artists – Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Brandy – so in that girl group, I learned so much about what it actually takes. I also started my songwriting career; I got my first placement while I was in that group, so one thing led to another over the years and getting to know people, working really hard and sacrificing, all of that." Victoria executive produced the project with D'Mile, who she says is like family to her, and actually housed her after she ran out of money when she first moved to LA and her girl group plans fell through. "It's an honour to executive produce this project with him, and it be my debut project," she says, before reeling off some of the instrumentalists and noting how much she admires each of them. "We have a lot of collaboration on the production side; it just feels like a family." "I'm the only songwriter on the project," she adds. Just like her, 'Jaguar' is Victoria's moment to really shine as a songwriter, penning slinky
retro tunes, filled to the brim with double-entendres and innuendos, it's not immediately noticeable how sexy some of the tracks are (or not, such is the case with 'Ass Like That', which tells the story of Victoria meeting a man called Gym). While this is her debut album, she's got four EPs behind her and has been releasing songs as an artist herself since 2014. However, she still considers herself a new artist and wants 'Jaguar' to be her proper introduction to the world, one she's fully in control of. "I feel like it's the first body of work that one, is long enough to be an album; two, I feel proud enough and it's cohesive enough for me to feel like, let's stop being afraid and just call it what it is." That's not to say her songwriting is a side hustle, nor is her artist project. "A lot of songwriters are already artists. It's easy to write great songs, and give them to someone who has a team behind them, and they become more known and successful. But when you're an artist, and you're independent, and you write that same great song, you don't have the machine behind you. There are a lot of factors that will slow your artist's career down in comparison to your songwriting career." Juggling the two also means Victoria, as a Black,
Intro. Future Islands' new album 'As Long As You Are' is due on 9th October, accompanied by a livestream show broadcast from their hometown of Baltimore.
bisexual woman, who writes songs about being all of those things, is breaking some serious ground in the music industry. "I try my best to take this to the next level to even the playing field. I think some artists like Ne-yo or Smokey Robinson have done a really great job being both. For me, my goal is to never sacrifice one gift to feed another. What I love about artistry is an expression of self and my own story. "I want to inspire people the way that other artists would have inspired me when I was young, and create representation for more black female artists, more black bisexual artists, more songwriters, artists that are writing their own songs. All of those things are really important to me." Black women are killing it in music right now, and as part of this current wave of soon-tobe superstars – Chloe x Halle, Normani, Kiana Ledé, Saweetie,
"I want to inspire people, and create representation for more black female artists, and more black bisexual artists" Victoria Monet
as well as those already breaking records like Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and Lizzo – Victoria has nothing but praise for her peers. "Oh, I really, really love it. I look to my left and right, and I see us supporting each other, we either follow each other or have said positive things about or to each other, so it means a lot. It feels like a community of people so that we don't have to feel so alone and someone is right beside us that can relate to any of the other issues that other people wouldn't pick up on. We can talk to each other communally and like, fight the fight together, basically. These women are just the most talented ever." Seeing the real love and support between this community of women is uplifting. Their persistence and talent is what's taking them higher, and Victoria shows no signs of slowing down. With the second part of 'Jaguar' coming 'soon', there's one song fans are dying to hear in full. "It's called 'Jack'. It's about a woman who's cheating on her husband with Jack, but it's really Jack Daniels," she explains. She'd put a snippet of it on Instagram and has been flooded with comments asking for it since, but it is coming. "I know people love the song, they tweet me like really upset that it's not out and within my little tribe fanbase it went viral, they bring it up pretty much daily." The staggered release of the album is all part of Victoria's plan – she doesn't want to bombard new fans with new music. If she's waited this long, you can too. "There are three parts. The way we consume music nowadays, people move on to the next thing really fast. So I wanted to microdose the project in pieces so that people have a chance to live with the songs and appreciate them for what they are." It's her moment after all, and she'll make every second of it count. P Victoria Monet's
album 'Jaguar' is out now.
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WHAT IS CURRENTLY 'REALLY GOOD', AND WHAT NEEDS TO GET IN THE CULTURAL BIN? WE DECIDE. BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY. IT'S OUR MAGAZINE. DO KEEP UP. Live music is (sort of) back! Back!! Back?!? Ish. There are things approaching 'outdoor gigs' happening in Newcastle there was one with Sam Fender recently, where fans had to sit in little fenced off pens to stop spreading the 'rona - while Miles Kane played acoustically in Camden Market. In the rain. Make your own jokes, Dear Reader. Still, it's SOMETHING!
munity; we t together"
Parklife has announced it's dates for 2021. Taking place between 12th and 13th June, early bird signup is available now, including first access to tickets and 'more'.
HRH Queen Carly Rae Jepsen, Queen of Pop has dropped a surprise new single. It's called 'Me And The Boys In The Band' - and is perhaps part of the "entire quarantine album" she was teasing back when she released 'Dedicated Side B' earlier this year. An ode to the live music scene we're all missing, it's really quite lovely. We regret to inform you that one of popular band of this parish Sports Team is a DEFINITE CONFIRMED CRIMINAL. We know this, as BBC Newsbeat went round the band's now infamous shared lodgings to get a tour from "the band that locked down together and took on Lady Gaga". During this, we discovered someone has been taking Ben's Curiously Cinnamon. This will not do. Golden Grahams are far better.
The Japanese House has released a new EP that features Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. 'Chewing Cotton Wool' marks the follow-up to last year's debut album.
"Do socks in the freezer work," Sea Girls tweeted on 11th August. It was boiling, Dear Reader. Hot. Hot hot hot. So obviously, your friendly neighbourhood magazine decided that, yes, this was a good idea. We'll put a pair of socks in the freezer, and surely before long we'll have cold little tootsies to release us from the ridiculous temperature. We regret to inform you, socks in the freezer do not work.
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. k c a b 16. DORK
The Wytches' third album, 'Three Mile Ditch' comes out via their own label, Cable Code Records on 2nd October. The news arrives alongside the ominous 'A Love You’ll Never Know'.
Intro. Angel Olsen has announced her new solo album, 'Whole New Mess'. Due on 28th August, she put the record together right after a difficult breakup.
One of this summer's many delayed records, The Magic Gang's new 'un is worth the wait - even if 'Death Of The Party' would have been very on-thenose back in its original May slot. By: Jamie MacMillan.
he chart battle was a fierce one. In one corner, a much-loved and general championsof-Dork indie band. In the
other, a gang of global pop superstars. Caught in a fight against overwhelming odds, our plucky underdogs still managed to punch way, way above their weight. If only they’d invented unlimited bundles back then, hey? Because without them, The Magic Gang just couldn’t quite manage to compete with, amongst others, the combined ‘talents’ of Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Eminem, finishing just outside the top ten in the spring of 2018. Along with fellow Brightonians Fickle Friends, who also charted highly that week, they were one of what felt like, until now, the last wave of Great Indie Hopes to bother the top of the charts. In many ways, it feels like they have earned their place amongst indie royalty these days, and so it was that Dork was summoned to a video chat with two of the gang, guitarist/vocalist Kris Smith and drummer Paeris Giles at Kris’ South London home. Like many first records, their self-titled debut didn’t so much reflect where the band were as where they had come from. With them all living together in Brighton, in a house of eight that Kris still fondly, and glamorously, describes today as “mucky, untidy, with a living room full of ashtrays” (where do we sign up?), it portrayed life in its everyday ups and downs, basking in sunny moments pulled from every stage of
love. Stick it on now, and it still feels like A Proper Indie Moment from start to finish. “I think it’s kind of a weird one for ourselves now,” admits Paeris as the pair look back at that debut that walked the familiar tightrope of having to contain older work without feeling like just a retread. “I don’t think it’s where we were at at the time, but it would have been doing everyone an injustice not to have all of those songs in the bank I guess? And people seemed appreciative, it obviously did quite well so on that basis you can’t be too snotty about it,” he grins with an understatement. It would be easy to forgive them for sticking close to a tried and tested formula for album number two then. No chance. ‘Death Of The Party’ isn’t so much about the end of something, but rather the start of a whole new adventure altogether. Just like the album title suggests, every good time has to end eventually. Because
“We’ve put out a lot of flipping music, so it needs to be different” Kris Smith
Hurts have announced a European tour for 2021, spanning 17 counties across the continent and culminating in London and Manchester.
after every good party, there is usually a hangover following right on its heels. Paeris today likens the record as a descent into madness, while Kris settles for describing it as “a record that starts quite positive and energetic, and then it just slowly gets more grim from there.” Both of them seem obviously entirely relaxed about the concept of how to make a record sound appealing, but they’re not ‘entirely’ serious. We hope. The title-track itself came from a party attended separately by both Kris and Jack. For Jack, times were good. For Kris though, it felt very different. “That song is like how everyone but you seems to be on this kind of mutual wave at a party sometimes. It’s about feeling alone in a crowded room,” he explains. “It’s about being alienated and feeling like you’re maybe drawing negative energy when you’re in an ultimately positive and euphoric place.” Admitting that he changed some of the details to save his own dignity, it is striking that the subject matter is a world away from their debut’s love letters. “In hindsight, it seems like such a strange thing to write those kind of love songs, which weren’t really about anybody,” he agrees. “But this was a way where I was able to write about everything more seriously. Still done with a layer of humour and fiction, but it’s a good way to get everything out of your system.” Jack has described the album previously as like individual diary entries, something Kris confirms as an almost unconscious continuity as the ideas flowed from all four in the band. Admitting that lyrics were almost an afterthought previously, there is a sense of how Kris and the gang have grown in their song-writing. “I just started noticing lyrics on records really,” he laughs, “And so I thought ‘oh, I might try this on my own songs’. I think on the first album, they were just like a vehicle for the songs, and it was like ‘we need to put some words to this melody’.” For a band who have
The Mercury Prize 'happens' this month. You'll already have seen the nominated albums - but just imagine the online 'discourse' if Sports Team won. Absolute scenes.
always happy to wear their musical influences on their sleeves in the past, the same is very much true this time around, too. Chucking elements of Northern Soul, Motown and good old guitarbased indie-pop into a pot might seem unlikely to work, but one listen to lead single ‘Think’ and those horns are enough to get anyone dancing like an amped-up TikToker. Recognisably still the same people, it is a subtle progression in sound, a move into perhaps a more mature world of indie-pop. Tracks like ‘Gonna Bounce Back’ and ‘Just A Minute’ are still the work of a band packed with vibrancy and fun, bops aplenty, but perhaps mark the moment when some of those teenage shenanigans start to move into their slipstream. It shows a life where victory and progress comes in the form of only having to make a twohour train journey as opposed to five hours on a coach, and while revolution is in the air, it is out there happening to everybody else because you’re sat inside. Having kept everything deliberately vague on their debut, it seems that now the band are more comfortable, and confident, in making their songs specific. “I think people would perhaps grow a bit tired of it if we had kept everything vague again,” offers Paeris. “Because actually, I’ve sort of had a few more adult experiences that will probably resonate with a lot of people now. So we were just trying to get them out as a sort of coping mechanism.” Though Paeris and Kris carry the easy air of people who know they have nailed it on this album, it is also easy to sense the same frustration at current events that everyone on Planet Earth currently carry. Their last headline tour came in support of that debut, and what was meant to be a fairly quiet 2019 in preparation for a frenetic album tour and prestigious support run has now turned unavoidably into two years spent largely away from the stage. For a band who were known for their prodigious gig output in the past, it is a massive bummer. The record itself was completed at the
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end of last August after a recording session over in Atlanta (“We rushed it to get it out early!” laughs Kris), a period that, with the exception of a brutal US heatwave, sounds idyllic and free from any tricky second-albumcliches. It almost came together so easily that perhaps we should have known. With the Blossoms support tour being forced to end before they even felt like they were hitting their stride, Kris admits that he is anxious to get going again. The band have already returned to the studio, with the first steps of writing album number three having begun. “I think it’s about making sure that we are bringing something new to the table, to be honest,” is how Kris describes it. “Because we’ve put out a lot of flipping music, so it needs to be different. I think a lot of what we’ve written is like a response to the record we just made.” What it will sound like (and how many new records we will have to cope with in 2021 at this rate) is anybody’s guess. With Paeris having earlier described the freewheeling nature and genre-hopping tradition of bands like The Clash as a blueprint for how he sees the band operate, Kris is currently listening to the likes of Jessie Ware, HAIM and LA Priest. Discussing how bands like The Maccabees were able to paint a vivid picture within and around every song, Kris dangles the tantalising idea that his own thoughts lie in the same direction. “I feel like that’s something we’ve neglected at times, that sense of it not being just a song but a feeling or atmosphere. I think we did a good job of it this time around, but I think it’s definitely something we can build on in the future.” And that is The Magic Gang all over, a band already looking to move forwards through both the good times and the bad, determined to not fall into the trap of repeating themselves. Get that next party started. P The
Magic Gang’s album ‘Death Of The Party’ is out 28th August.
Intro. ST UF F YOU NEED TO KNOW T HIS M ONT H...
Haim have booked in a massive tour for June 2021. The run of six shows will see the trio performing in huge venues up and down the country, including London’s O2 Arena.
Fern Ford from The Big Moon has gone solo with her debut single, ‘Match’. The nearly-5-mins-long ambient track is quite a departure from her usual sound, and marks years of development.
Best Coast are going to host a virtual show. The duo are celebrating the tenth anniversary of their debut album 'Crazy For You' by performing it in full on 14th September.
FROM DUSK TILL DAW N W I T H YOUR FAVOURI T E ACTS
6 YOU KN OW W H AT ' S EASIER T H AN FOLLOW ING AR OU ND YOUR FAVE U P-A ND COMIN G IND IESTROK E-POP STAR S , DAY IN, DAY OU T, TO SEE WH AT T H E Y ' R E UP TO? AS K ING THEM.
I know that the initial reaction of people reading this might be to think that I’m trying to show off because I wake up earlier than 11am and that’s traditionally not very rock, but in truth, a family of seagulls have recently nested above my bedroom window and every morning at about 5am I hear the little younglings cry out for mama. After tossing and turning for about three hours (and damning the beauty of mother nature and all that she has provided, who needs nature anyway???), I finally decide to get out of bed and watch four episodes of The Good Place while drinking cheap instant coffee and patting myself on the back for getting up at a reasonable time.
After showering and pampering myself in soaps and shampoos that can only be described as overtly conscientious to offset their contribution to global capitalism, I usually text the rest of the guys in the band to let them know I’m going to be
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard THIS MONTH... TOM REES FROM
late. “I definitely should have only watched two episodes of The Good Place,” I say to myself, every morning.
certainly with a lit cigarette, to which I roll my eyes upwards and the windows downwards.
10 :10 A M
1 0: 1 5AM
I pick up Ethan at his place, his street is beautiful but offers very little in the way of on-street parking, so I often find myself backing up about three miles of traffic, honking and screaming until he gleefully skips out of his house and into my car, almost
I then pick up Zac (I don’t charge for this service, by the way, I’m what you call ‘a good person’), Zac will hate me saying this, but he’s usually 50/50. In one-half of cases, he’ll answer the phone exuberantly and charge out of his house and into the car
faster than Boris Johnson charged into that poor child while playing rugby in times gone by, but in the other half, he’ll answer the phone in a kind of cool-chill way to try and convince us that he indeed hasn’t just woken up, in fact, he’s been awake for hours practising our songs and writing a novel, and will be down shortly.
1 0: 3 0AM
We arrive at our studio (we’re very lucky) and practise/ record pretty much all day until 6pm. This whole process is frequently littered with trips to get a ‘tasty bev’ and some ‘poojey snacks’ which of course are delicious but awful for our health, I fear in 10 years we won’t have succumbed to drug addiction and ego death, but more likely obesity and diabetes. (For those wondering, there is an Indian bakery / cafe near our studio called POOJA, hence the name Poojey Snacks. It’s delicious, and I take everyone I work with there too, most
recently the wonderful Do Nothing, I’m sure they can vouch for its brilliance.)
Big jump here but for the past seven-or-so hours we’ve been writing, recording and eating so it’s time to go home and rest up. I drop the rest of the guys home in reverse order, I should have also mentioned that Ed travels from out of town, so he comes separately, so he makes his way home too.
6: 3 0PM
I arrive home, most likely do some dishes, then settle into three or four more episodes of The Good Place to lull me and my wonderful girlfriend to sleep. We are united in our love for The Good Place. I fall asleep at a reasonable 11pm, ready to greet the seagulls with a tirade of abuse the following morning. P
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard’s ‘The Non-Stop’ EP is out now.
Bangers. T H E BE ST N E W S O N G S T H I S MO N T H .
THE CHART T H E C O N STANT LY S H I FT I N G LIST OF D O R K 'S FAVOUR IT E A L BU MS O F 2020 - U P DAT E D EVERY MO N T H !
01. Run The Jewels RTJ4
The most important album of the year? Quite probably - but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also one of the very best, too.
02. Rina Sawayama SAWAYAMA
y a rr
The latest hottest new star has a slippery new bop. Isn't BENEE brilliant? This is a 'rhetorical question', Most Dear of Readers - BENEE is quite obviously very brilliant indeed. After all, how many other popsters are making songs about snails? None. They're all far too boring for that. This is, obviously, some kind of metaphor-typesituation, but also maybe BENEE is a snail in disguise. It'd be useful for touring to carry your home around with you. Save on Travelodges. Anyway, the song? It is good. Stephen Ackroyd
A new Billie-bop? Yes please, thank you very much indeed. Dame William Eyelash is back! Back!! Back-eroony!!! Though maybe tone down the exclamation a touch, as 'my future' is a touch more woozy and emosh than poppers and glow sticks. Our Billie, you see, is "in love" but "not with anyone else" she "just wants to get to know herself". "I'll see you in a couple of years," she croons. Is this an 'I'm pissing off to make a new record' hint, or just a lyric? Dunno. Look on Reddit or something, you lazy git. They've probably got it all worked out. Stephen Ackroyd
She's on one of this month's covers, and she's dropping bops. Another of this month's 'featured artists', Tate McRae has something a little special about her. A 'hip young gunslinger' she may be, but there's a complex maturity to her latest cut - smoky, glitching pop packed with emotional tension and promise. She's going to go far, this one. Just you watch. Stephen Ackroyd
Don't Be Sad
Arlo Parks Hurt
Another remarkable new track from one of the year's hottest new talents. She's on one of our covers this month, and she's
smashing it in 'general', Arlo is everything right now. 'Hurt' is peak soulful bop - full of pop culture references (Twin Peaks, Jai Paul) and masterful storytelling, she's a talent that stands out from her peers. With a debut album to follow, expect things to get very very big very very quickly. Stephen Ackroyd
Miley Cyrus Midnight Sky
Her first new music of the year, it's Really Rather Good. For one of the biggest popsters on the planet, Miley is actually pretty damn underrated, isn't she? Yes. The answer is yes. Latest cut 'Midnight Sky' is a pop masterpiece, southern drawl matched to 80s neons and future
disco. While some may choose to attach her every musical move to a relationship status change or the gossip column whispers, that only really distracts from her AAA list status. One of the very, very best. Stephen Ackroyd
Remi Wolf Monte Carlo
Another bundle of fun from the fast-rising newcomer. Summer may be coming to an end, but with bright, expressive alt-pop like Remi Wolf's latest, maybe we can keep it going straight through the autumn too. Blipping and bopping its way through under two and a half minutes of pure serotonin, 'Monte Carlo' has more than one scrapbook moment. Just don't start playing the more - um - explicit version in front of Mummy and Daddy. Awkward looks would abound. Stephen Ackroyd
'They' may have denied her her Mercury nomination on some bullshit nonsense, but that's fine. We appreciate you Rina. Up the chart you go!
03. Phoebe Bridgers PUNISHER
04. Taylor Swift FOLKLORE *NEW*
05. Declan McKenna ZEROS *NEW*
06. The 1975
NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM
07. Sports Team DEEP DOWN HAPPY
08. The Big Moon WALKING LIKE WE DO
09. Dua Lipa
WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III
NEW M USIC F IR ST
FACT FILE + From London, UK via Durban, South Africa + Check out ‘Buzzkill’ + Social @babyqueen
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Baby Queen is challenging the preconceptions of pop. By: Jamie Muir.
irst releases can be so hard. How does an artist get across everything about themselves with one bold piece of music to their name? For Baby Queen, the wait was a long one.
"I felt for so long that I was just waiting for my life to start, y' know?" she explains. "You're in this state of limbo, so to suddenly see this response this year to me putting music out has been really incredible. That people are connecting and understanding what I'm doing. It sort of authenticates everything you go through before this time, the highs and the lows…" Bella Latham - currently nestled in an Airbnb in Bath where she's spending time between recording/writing trying to load up episodes of Modern Family with a dodgy internet connection - is all about drive. "Since I was 11, I just ruthlessly wanted to be the biggest artist in the world," she states. "I packed my bags and said to my mum, I'm going to be a pop star… cheers, I'm leaving! Like, see you soon hun!'" That determination perfectly captures who Baby Queen is. A side of Bella full of brash confidence and feverish energy, the results so far pinpoint an artist with her finger firmly on the pulse of a modern generation refusing to fall into the lanes laid out for them. "A lot of Baby Queen is just very cynical and sarcastic and negative. There's certain stuff that I would say and do that as Baby Queen just wouldn't work," explains Bella. Growing up in South Africa staying up to watch the Grammys, having Fleetwood Mac playing around the house, and eventually building an unbreakable connection with Taylor Swift ("I had a fan
Thunder Jackson has announced details of his long-awaited self-titled debut album. Out on 1st October, it was recorded in LA, California with Pete Lawrie Winfield.
page when I was 13 years old!"), she sits as a result of all these influences. "I got obsessed with listening to country music when I was younger," recalls Bella. "That came from listening to Taylor a lot and then from there I discovered Shania Twain, the Dixie Chicks and more. I just got really into it and learnt to write songs by emulating that country music storytelling way, which I only really broke away from later, but initially, I just loved chart music. I was there listening to Katy Perry knowing all those records off by heart. Straight-up pop". Embracing American culture, she knew that to reach those heights, she would have to move somewhere else. "It may sound shallow to want to be the biggest artist in the world, but when you start to unpack things, it comes down to feeling like there's a part of you that never got the attention or affirmation you felt like you deserved growing up. I think I had a bit of that. You seek the affirmation elsewhere; I got really obsessive, and I couldn't stop. It's the only thing I ever think about." It's how Bella found herself moving to London. Leaving home at 19 to chase the dream, she was met with a new world full of artists and sounds that never would have passed through her life back in South Africa. Picking up a job at London's famed Rough Trade East record store, a new breadth of artists were there and in front of Bella. The 1975 and their twisting viewpoint on modern pop, the immediacy of Little Simz and the stories she would weave - each played a pivotal role in Bella growing into the artist she wanted to become. "I literally got here, lived out of a suitcase and didn't really know anyone," remembers Bella, "but I was like, it has to happen. There is no other choice. I literally have left my entire family and everyone I knew to chase this. I can't not succeed. It's not an option." One listen to Baby Queen,
Coach Party have shared a dreamy cover of Clairo's hit, 'Bags'. "We made the whole thing remotely," they explain. The lockdown homage follows on from their debut EP 'Party Food', out now.
"Since I was 11, I wanted to be the biggest artist in the world" Baby Queen and you'll understand why she's about to become a pretty big deal. Debut release 'Internet Religion' arrived like a shot out of the blue, fizzing indie-pop breakdowns and biting social commentary on the digital age. On follow-up 'Buzzkill', that alt-pop slanting magic stands in full force, sounding like the sort of track that'll live on phone screens and personal playlists for the foreseeable future. Most importantly, it's the sound of an artist growing up in the modern world and perfectly detailing the human reaction and cost associated with a complex world where scrutiny and perception is an unneeded must. "When I started working with my producer, I don't think either of us knew what we were doing. We just knew that we had a couple of demos and wanted to create something beyond what is the protocol in pop. Creating something that has a lasting impact and has its own identity and sound. That could stand the test of time." Breaking down the boundaries of pop is a natural next step. After moving to London, Bella describes how she "got really cool and was like 'fuck pop music, that's shit'." As you can imagine, it was a resistance that didn't last. Bella laughs, thinking back. "It actually got to the point where we made 'Buzzkill', and we made it and I was like 'oh for fuck sake it's so pop, this is dreadful'. As time
went by, though, I realised it was what people were reacting to the most. Where we were really sitting on that brink, where we were really pushing that boundary of pop in a sarcastic and intelligent way - that was where the best reactions were coming from, and then I was like, hell yeah. This is it." "I've settled on this word, anti-pop," continues Bella. "Anti-pop is pop music for people who don't like pop music, or don't like the idea of it. I think that sort of feels right because a lot of what I do is reject the sort-of normal expectations and parameters of pop music and the way it's all done. Especially in my lyrics, I think it's about a huge rejection of this huge session-writing pop machine because for me that's the death of pop music. It has to be personal to me, it couldn't be anything else. "My whole thing is that pop music doesn't have to be shit." Work on her debut album is already well underway. Bella is already obsessed with the different eras and avenues she can take Baby Queen down, and plans are already shaping up for how the next two years are about to look for Bella's diary. Spoiler: it's going to be busy. "I actually asked my managers if they could schedule in a relationship for me at some point because it's just not going to happen otherwise. I don't care about anything else but music," Bella cracks. "But I struggle to see how you can even do this if you didn't have that drive. It's taxing emotionally, and you have to make a lot of sacrifices, so you wouldn't go to this extent if it isn't everything you want. I want that big moment. "I feel like the sky's the limit, it's how I've always felt." For Baby Queen, it's not about if, but when she has that big moment. Two songs down but with the world waiting on every word, you can guarantee it will be coming sooner rather than later. This is Baby Queen's world now. P
Molly Payton has confirmed her new EP, 'Porcupine'. Due on 14th October via TMWRK Records, the five-tracker is preceded by moody lo-fi bop 'Warm Body', which sees the teen ruminate on loneliness.
UPSAHL The music biz is terrible for dressing up ‘networking’ ‘events’ as fun-time parties, full of booze and music but also people who want to know exactly who you are, what you do, and how they might be able to use you to further whatever it is they’re doing. It’s a sentiment LA songwriter and pop up-and-comer UPSAHL nails with her new single ‘People I Don’t Like’; two and a half minutes of on-the-nose sass that - in addition to co-writes on Dua Lipa’s new album - shows her to be a pretty special talent. Hi UPSAHL. What were your first steps to becoming a pro musician? The Phoenix music scene embraced me at an early age. My music started to get played on local radio, and I was offered opportunities to open for touring acts that were coming through. I met my managers, I decided to skip college and move to LA. How are you finding LA, it must be an exciting place to live? When I first moved here almost three years ago, I hated LA. I found it really hard to meet new people; I still was figuring out what kind of music I wanted to make, who I was, while navigating such an unforgiving city. Once I found my people and figured my own shit out, I completely fell in love with LA. What are you working on at the moment? I’m currently wrapping up my second EP that comes out later this summer/early fall! I’m also writing with/for other artists and a couple of movies. P
Canadian singer-songwriter JP Saxe is having to adjust to new-found fame following his unexpected smash, ‘If The World Was Ending’.
By: Jack Press. Photography: Matt Barnes.
ingersongwriters singing sombre songs about heartbreak and heartache are ten-a-penny. It’s trendy
to pen tragedy and put it out to the world to a backdrop of pitter-pattering piano and gentle giant guitar tones. Every now and then though, someone comes along and
FACT FILE + From Canada + Check out ‘If The World Was Ending’ + Social @jpsaxe
breaks the mould, bringing songs of love (and loss, it’s unavoidable these days) to the masses. Ed Sheeran gave us ‘Thinking Out Loud’. George Ezra gave us ‘Budapest’. And now, JP Saxe gives us the pre-pandemic penned, post-apocalyptic anthem, ‘If The World Was Ending’. “It’s hard to tell when
you’re locked in your house,” he muses, reflecting on having the spotlight shined on him from the confines of his home. “I’m watching the same TV shows and pacing about my living room in the same fashion, and honestly it doesn’t feel that long ago to me that the only people who knew my songs were people who were either in my family
or in my friend group.” If there was a time when his music was only reaching those around him, he’s now living in a completely different world where a single song of his has racked up 450 million streams and 94 million views. While he’s not averse to the success its bought, the fact it’s come during a global pandemic has been a bit odd. “When I first recognised the song was resonating with people because of Covid-19,” he says, “I was originally rather conflicted about it. I wasn’t sure if it was within my moral compass to be enthusiastic about the silver lining of my song reaching more people in this situation. “It took a couple of weeks of figuring out that the reason it was resonating with people is that the song speaks to putting love before anything else. If there was ever a time to want to connect to the part of ourselves that wants to put love before anything else, then it’s certainly now.” Love, it seems, is at the centre of JP Saxe’s universe; whether it’s international heartbreak (‘25 In Barcelona’) or homegrown happiness (‘3 Minutes’). This year’s ‘Hold It Together’ EP slipped between the happiness of new-found love and the heartbreak of a breakup, but his latest offering, ‘Hey Stupid, I Love You’ is him well and truly opening his mind. “It’s my way of wanting to make sure my career isn’t just singing gruelling, nostalgic, emotional heartbreak songs,” he laughs. “I’ve found a lot of music that feels like me at 3am, just in it, but I wanted to make sure that when I get up on stage, I get to perform songs that feel like who I am in the middle of the day being a silly loving dork with my girlfriend.” Whether he’s being a ‘Sad Corny Fuck’ and professing his love, or stripping back his soul to sell his heartbreak, JP Saxe puts honesty and relatability at the heart of his
writing, especially now he’s working with other artists. “The only way to be relatable is to be honest. I always used to argue with writers in sessions, when they say about having to be less specific so we can be more relatable. That’s totally valid for some songwriters, but my argument, for my own music, is that my favourite movies have nothing to do with my life, and yet I will still relate to those stories; I don’t see why songs have to be any different. “I can talk about spending my 25th birthday in Barcelona right after a breakup, and I don’t expect anyone to have had that exact experience, yet by speaking so specifically about that experience, people feel closer to their own experiences in it because it feels real.” Being human, at the end of the day, is all JP Saxe knows how to be. In a year that’s seen him fall in love, he’s also experienced devastating loss, all in the wake of a global pandemic that’s truly put things in perspective for him. “I’d been writing in LA, but I was back in Toronto, because my mum was sick. I literally finished the EP on my laptop sitting beside my mum in the hospital, and it integrated itself into my life in a really meaningful way. "It came out only a week or two after my mum died, which was right before my first European tour where I did a few dates with Lennon Stella. This was all right before quarantine, so when I say my life has changed a lot since January, there’s been all kind of readjustments to what it means to be myself.” Through readjustment has come reflection, and on reflection, JP Saxe has set his sights on an even shinier spotlight than the one he’s currently standing under. “I’d like to be playing in football stadiums around the world. Most of my favourite artists are massive pop
HYPE HYPE NEWS
“If there was ever a time to want to put love before anything else, then it’s certainly now” JP Saxe artists, so I don’t think it’s entirely fucking impossible, but I haven’t got to where I am now by aiming for the goal. I’ve got there by aiming for the art that I want to make and see where it takes me." JP Saxe isn’t a singersongwriter chucking out meat-and-potatoes fodder for the chart show massive. He’s a human being hitting up the human heart and putting his pen to paper to pop down his thoughts and feelings and feed them through the rest of the world’s lives. While he’s got lofty ambitions, he’s also got a songbook of stories to tell, and as long as he stays true to himself, he’ll keep wondering what would be if the world was ending. P
Dutch indie-poppers Snow Coats (who you may recognise from Dork's virtual festival, Homeschool) are gearing up to release a new EP; 'Pool Girl' is due 11th September via Alcopop!.
JAWNY has released his new single, 'Sabotage'. Leaning heavily into Beck's lo-fi slacker-pop vibes, it's a cut from his upcoming project 'For Abby', due out later this year.
Mysie A new wave of musicians are emerging from lockdown’s depths, tired of waiting around for a spotlight to steal.
This year, timing will always be wrong. The revolution is now, and Mysie is ready to shine through the gloomy South London’s sky. We caught her in the middle of writing frenzy, thinking of playing for fans in exotic places and obsessing over The Rising Star IVORS nomination. Spoiler alert: she’s super excited. “Honestly, it’s madness. I’m so grateful. I’m excited to be working with my mentor. It’s such an amazing opportunity,” she says. The thrill is real. After playing big-impact volumes from her turned inside-out heart, she’s now being acknowledged for her music and compositions. “Just being nominated is such a privilege and it’s such an amazing experience. Winning is just a bonus, isn’t it? I feel like you’ve already won if you’ve been nominated,” she shares. This rising star
stays grounded. For Mysie it’s not about the win but the journey. Buckle up; it’s gonna be a long one. The passion was there from day one. Growing up with a renowned Ugandan jazzman as grandad, then Lizbet Sempa was surrounded by music early on. “I was seven when I started playing the piano. When I got my first piano, I cried. I knew it was meant to be, and music has always been in my blood,” she recalls. What was fixed in childhood by tears and blood, blossomed in adolescence with a first fling. “I didn’t actually start properly singing ‘till I was 14. I was playing a lot of my classical piano, a lot of classical pieces. One day, at 16, I got heartbroken - on my birthday. I was like, you know what? I’m gonna write a song. I wanna write a song. “It started with a man. Then I couldn’t stop composing and writing. It just didn’t stop from there.” What one heartbreak fired up was fuelled by a
“I’m looking forward to big things” Mysie
Working Men's Club have confirmed a new release date for their self-titled debut album. Originally due earlier this year, but delayed due to the pandemic, the record will now land on on 2nd October.
Super talented London newcomer Mysie's star is rapidly rising. By: Aleksandra Brzezicka. Photography: Ayman Chaudhry.
more worthy crowd. “Early on I was listening to a lot of J Dilla, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, very experimental music, but I’d say that a lot of my foundation is from artists like Duran Duran. All the music I’ve listened to growing up is a huge mix of influences in terms of writing,” she says, mapping her musical exploration during which sixteen-yearold Lizbet evolved into Mysie. “Growth as a person affects the music naturally. So, FACT FILE as a person, + From I’ve grown, London, UK and my music + Check out has grown ‘Gift’ with me. + Social That’s been @mmmmysie just a huge part of my development within the music industry and within my music. I always try to push; if the sky is the limit, to go beyond. I would never put myself in a box, that’s been a huge thing to me,” she explains. It’s a rare achievement in an industry that feeds off labels and often brands artists quicker then they’re able to figure themselves out. Though Mysie understands the basic urge to perceive music in categories, believing that the limitations are not always created intentionally. “It’s very easy to generalise art. You know, you hear my voice and think: ‘Oh that’s soul, she’s singing soul’. My music comes from many different influences. I wouldn’t say it’s just soul. I think it’s from the soul,” she says and lists her inspirations, from alternative to pop and R’n’B. Both instrumentally and lyrically, she draws
upon anything authentic, emotional enough to spark her own flame, to burn through barriers. “It’s so interesting even thinking about it. It’s inspired by so many different places! It’s not just one thing, it’s not just having me in a box but, I reckon, opening it out. Things are changing,” she says. When asked about releasing a debut album in upcoming months, she sounds promising. “Oh, I hope so. Wink, wink! Hopefully, yes. I’ve got so much lined-up and written. I’ve done so much music in the quarantine and put a lot down, like an album’s worth. We’ll see how it goes, I’m going with the flow with this, so I’m super excited,” she says, and we wait. In the meantime, check out Mysie’s latest obsessions Ego Ella May’s new album, ‘Honey For Wounds’, and a sleek Swiss formation, The Sirens Of Lesbos. While streaming her favourites, Mysie doesn’t plan far ahead but is straightforward in what she wants. “I can’t wait to start playing again. That’s my dream, to connect with people and my fans. I wanna be travelling around. I’ve got many fans in Brazil, and I’ve got quite a big fanbase in sun-based areas. My dream is to be making music every day and collaborate with my favourite collaborators. I miss being with people. I really do miss that connection. I’m looking forward to big things. Big things,” she says. P
Alec Wigdahl If things don't kick off real soon for Dork playlist staple Alec Wigdahl, we'll be awfully miffed. By: Sam Taylor. Photography: Fiona Garden.
The unexpectedly suave son of American actor and comedian John C. Reilly, it's hard to take your eyes and ears off LoveLeo. There's so much going on. It's extra in a way that you'd expect to get a bit much, with endless video effects, quirky stylings and oddball pop tunes, but in reality he's hit on a formula that's immediately and endlessly fascinating. He's got us, got us, got us going head over heels.
23-year-old multiinstrumentalist, songwriter and producer Ciara Lindsey has just launched her debut Kynsy single, 'Cold Blue Light'. An assertive first step, it's a tune that's all at once understated and anthemic, a foreboding, end-of-the-world beast that channels youthful rage into something that's both tragic and yet somehow uplifting. "[It's] about the bullies we all encounter in life," she explains.
lec Wigdahl is a king of bops. Lovely,
summery, why-aren’t-these-all-overthe-radio, irresistibly catchy bops. In a month where we’re all getting new music flung at us infinitely faster than we can hit ‘play’ on our preferred streaming service, his latest ‘Summer Is Over’ has already taken up a big old chunk of our repeat listens. The followup to recent hits ‘Lipstick’ and ‘Cologne’, it sees the LA-via-Minneapolis 10K Projects/Internet Money Records-signed newcomer round out a trilogy of topnotch tunes. Introduce yourself to a new fave.
Hi Alec, how’s LA treating you, are you sticking it out through lockdown? I absolutely am sticking it out through lockdown, and LA’s been treating me great so far. This is the third city I’ve fully lived in, because I grew up and lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota my whole life, and I spent a decent amount of time in Boston while I briefly went to Berklee College of Music. Boston was really fun, but LA is like super different from anywhere I’ve ever really been. It’s a whole different culture and world out here.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician, did you grow up in a musical household?
South-East Londoner Joey Maxwell is already a few singles (and an EP) deep, but his latest bop 'Streetlights' is his first under a new record deal with Polydor Records (home to Dork faves Sea Girls, Glass Animals, Haim). Undoubtedly the start of 'big things' 'to come', the former BRIT Schooler's catchy take on pop sees him turn out smooth bops in a similar vein to Easy Life et al.
The biggest influence my parents had on me, which was huge, was just showing me music. My parents are both huge music fans, and they both had different, unique tastes that they showed me from a young age. I think a lot of my music taste has stemmed from the music they showed me when I was a little kid. They also tried to put me into lessons as a kid, but I just wanted to teach myself. They definitely
made an effort to make sure I was surrounded by music. Clearly, it worked!
Can you remember your first-ever favourite song?
I would say my first ever favourite song that I remember having is a song my dad showed me from his favourite band, Aerosmith. He’d always play Aerosmith in the car and just say like “Listen to this! This is real music right here.” It was a song called 'Amazing' – it’s a random album track, but my dad thought it was the best. It became my first true, favourite song.
Did it take you long to hit on your sound?
Absolutely, and it’s something I’m still working on every single day. It’s really hard… the hardest part about being an artist is that, personally, I’m just a fan of so much music and so
“It’s frustrating that I have to put myself in a box” Alec Wigdahl
many different genres and artists that when I have to go back and make my own music, it’s frustrating that I have to put myself in a box. It’s hard to pick and choose the influences that I want to reflect. It’s definitely a journey to figure out where your voice is as an artist and where you have a unique sound. Finding my sound was definitely a challenge, and something I’m still doing.
How did you learn how to do all this?
FACT FILE + From Minneapolis + Los Angeles, US + Check out ‘Summer Is Over’ + Social @AlecWigdahl
It really started my junior year of high school. By that point, I learned some music as a kid, but had stopped doing music entirely. I hadn’t done music in years. Then I had this back surgery, and I was out of school and couldn’t play sports, and it caused me to start playing guitar again. I picked up my mom’s acoustic nylon guitar that she had just laying around, and I started teaching myself. I used to watch videos of Ed Sheeran playing and literally study his hands as he was playing. I’d try to mimic him and find the chords. I didn’t just go Google the chords to 'The A-Team' and try to learn the song. The way I really learned was by watching YouTube videos and going “How are his hands moving? How does he hold the guitar compared to John Mayer or BB King?” I had kind of the same approach to learning production. I had some producers and artists that I looked up to, and I tried to mimic them but do my own thing with it. It’s been the most gradual process. Trying to get better at writing and playing has been a slow process of chipping away at new skills. Usually, I didn’t even realise I was getting better at it, it’s just kind of something that happened because I really wanted it.
What’s coming up for you, do you have ‘big plans’? I see ‘Summer Is Over’ as the last in the trilogy of my recent songs. After ‘Summer Is Over’, it’s time to finish a full project and make the project feel cohesive. I’m ready to put out the next body of work to define where the music has gone in the last year since my 2019 EP ‘Strawberry’. P
HYPE HYPE NEWS
Fletcher has a new EP on the way. ‘The S(EX) TAPES', out 18th September, was written during lockdown, and documents her relationship with her ex, who she was quarantining with at the time.
Gia Ford's released a new single, 'Sleeping In Your Garden'. The St. Vincent-y track - which follows on from her May EP - was written with Fred Macpherson from Spector, and Jerskin Fendrix.
Be No Rain has announced his debut album, 'Strawberry Backstory'. Due out on 18th September via One Two Many Records, the news arrives alongside his new single 'Media Luna'.
Curtis Waters You might not know his name just yet, but you'll definitely know Curtis Waters' internet smash-hit 'Stunnin'' - and it's just the beginning. By: Steven Loftin.
hances are you can still find Curtis Waters’ breakout hit ‘Stunnin’’ rattling around TikTok’s brightly lit, cluttered halls, soundtracking the umpteenth person showing you what they might look like if they were in Harry Potter, or in their favourite band or what have you. But, he’s not a TikTok artist.
Born in Nepal before moving to Canada, he’s gone from relative anonymity to people rocking up to his parents’ house, where he currently lives in North Carolina, and doing a dance he cobbled together for the sake of a 20-second video. It’s something Curtis just has to deal with now. “I love TikTok, I go on all the time, but…” Curtis gathers his words, reclining in his bedroom. “I saw an opportunity for ‘Stunnin’’ to blow up. I didn’t make it for TikTok, but the way it was promoted was like, you know, this could be like ‘Old Town Road’. I knew it was catchy. I knew it wasn’t genrespecific.” But doesn’t using that platform, kinda set up the idea that you are, in fact, a TikTok artist? “People can say whatever. You can call me a SoundCloud artist, or a TikTok artist,” he says. “I know what I am, I know what I make. Hopefully, my catalogue proves whatever. I don’t feel the need to defend it.” With this wild ride, the fact he’s now in the public eye is what he quotes as the “strangest” part. “Before my whole identity was based around vulnerability, and being brutally honest and just as weird and emotional
“The fun for me is just trying to reinvent myself constantly” Curtis Waters as possible. My friends and fans are watching, but it wasn’t this massive thing. Right now, though, there are so many passive watches that it sort of makes me rethink sometimes… maybe put up a guard a little bit, which is kind of unfortunate because I never grew up like that. I was always like, ‘do this, do that’. Maybe, eventually, I’ll stop caring again.” However, it doesn’t seem to be settling down any time soon. Curtis himself posted to Instagram the velocity of the numbers has outpaced that of Crazy Frog, so not even little novelty anthropomorphic frogs can get in the way of the ‘Stunnin’’ freight train. “It’s just surreal, man. I’ll be honest, it is overwhelming sometimes. I’m not used to it.” The artist part of Curtis, inspired, at the tender age of fourteen, by the likes of Odd Future, Kanye West, Frank Ocean et al, is where the genre-fluidity of his sound stems. Further influenced by emo stalwarts American Football, Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms, along with a dash of Death Grips. “The most important things I think were emotional vulnerability and the humour of pop-punk music.”
Which is why ‘System’, the follow-up to ‘Stunnin’’, is a distorted barrage of anti-establishment that fits quite nicely into the second theme of 2020. Filled to the brim with its calls for protests and change. Certainly not a meme-able track, if you will. “The fun for me is just trying to reinvent myself constantly,” Curtis says. “It’s awesome ‘Stunnin'’ is a radio hit, but it was never intended to be a radio hit or whatever. I always think it’s kind of funny that is the song that blew up because it’s sort of an anomaly in terms of my catalogue. Now and then I’ll make a fun, random… like, ‘I’m a pretty boy, I’m stunning’… but most of the time, I just close my eyes, put on my headphones and I’m singing in auto-tune about how sad I am.” Given the success of ‘Stunnin’’ came when it was a one-man operation, Curtis did err away from any label interference, but since then has signed a licensing deal with BMG. Mostly, he wants you to know that his album “was made when I was independent, here in my room, all alone.” With the album, he has grand ideas. “My goal is to normalise mental health issues instantly, you know what I mean?” he says. “And the thing is the songs are
always going to be catchy. The songs are always gonna be fun because they’re songs - if they’re not, there’s no point.” Leaping away from the sound that broke him on TikTok with ‘System’ is, if anything, a brave move. It would’ve been easy for Curtis to bust out another soak-inthe-sun R&B laden beat for the world to get changed to, but, as he puts it “I’ve always known what my brand is or identity or whatever.” So what is his brand, or identity? He breaks a smirk. “I can’t define it, because if you define it, it becomes a formula... a formula only I know.” The problem he’s encountered with finding his rise sequestered to TikTok
is that, well, you kind of do become a ‘TikTok artist’. “I don’t want any one thing to define me,” he implores with an air of relegation. “I’m sure ‘Stunnin’’ will define me - it’s gonna outlive me, which is fine. But I’m constantly evolving, constantly doing stuff, making new ideas.” But, the reality is summed up in six words: “Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t.” “I don’t want to be a gimmick,” he adds. “For me, I’m having fun experimenting, it’s not about doing the same song over and over. If I do it is because I like it, right? I listen to so much different music that I’m always like, ‘Can I do this? What would this sound like if Curtis waters made it?’ You know what I mean?” Spoken like a true artist. P
FACT FILE + From North Carolina, US + Check out ‘Stunnin'’ + So cial @imcurtiswaters
It's been a weird old year, right? No gigs, no festivals, not much of anything, really. But as summer starts to wind towards its end, that doesn't mean there's nothing to get excited about. 2020 is still packed with amazing music. So, in order to hit the refresh button, we've called up a few of our favourite, freshest acts to help supercharge the months to come. It's time to...
itting down for a chat via Zoom, the COVID-19friendly method of communication, 19-year-old South Londoner Arlo Parks is on the cusp of leaving the romanticised messiness of her teenage years behind, and moving into her 20s with a renewed self-awareness and the intent of investing in her own joy. Growing up in a family with rich and varied musical tastes, Arlo became immersed in the multifaceted world of music from a young age and recalls there being a lot of jazz played in the house, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. You can almost see the trajectory from which her preferred method of expression developed, with jazz being synonymous with experimentation; having originated in New Orleans in the late 19th-century and finding itself amorphously transcribed a new form as it spread around the world. "My earliest memory of music is listening to '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding, just in the car. I don't know why that's the first song I remember consciously absorbing, but when I got older, it was more of a personal thing," she recalls. "Because my family loved music, it was on a different level where I went on YouTube and would spend hours trying to find new stuff to listen to â&#x20AC;&#x201C; I think that's where my music taste really evolved." Otis Redding's conversational melancholia being one of the first memories that Arlo has of music holds a poetic kind of symmetry. It is no mere coincidence that her own songs are littered with observational imagery and a solemn stillness that permeates listeners lives in a distinctly relatable way. There's an honesty that resides in the words, and it's something that Arlo is well aware of. 'Romantic Garbage' showcases the art of simplicity that resides within navigating the complicated feelings of crushing on someone. "If I fell in love with you, would you bring me the moon, or some broken beer bottles and fresh war
S O H OT RIGHT NOW!
"Younger people at the moment are willing to just unapologetically be themselves, stand up, and talk about things without fear" Arlo Parks
Rising fast and showing no signs of stopping - the future looks bright for Arlo Parks. By: Tyler Damara Kelly. Photography: Alex Kurunis / MC Overalls, Patrick Gunning.
wounds?" she asks. It's a universally relatable subject, but the romanticising of nature, and almost revelling in the bleak reality of existence, is what really draws you in. As someone who is continually journaling and making a note of their thoughts, Arlo has an endless stream of words that she can manifest into music. Rather than sitting down with a conscientious intent to produce a body of work, she likes to let the creativity flow naturally. "It's something that I try not to overthink because the best songs that I've written have been when I'm just not getting in the way of myself and I'm just letting myself be expressive," she says earnestly. "All of the songs that I've put out, and my favourite songs of my own, have just been done in a very short period of time. It hasn't been hours spent trying to figure out the melody. It's all just kind of come out," she offers. This ties into her belief that words come out precisely the way they were supposed to be. As readdork.com 27.
someone with a self-confessed short attention span, it's a beneficial way to write because you're getting to the root of what you intended to say. "I think stream of consciousness is a powerful tool for me, personally, just because you don't have the time to overthink anything and you can be completely honest with yourself about what you're feeling." When her debut single 'Cola' came out in 2018, Arlo had an element of naivety to thinking of what it might have meant for the way she would be spending the last of her formative years. She's still surprised by how things have taken off, and emphasises how it "feels very surreal". There are a few milestones that stand out amongst a plethora of high points over the past two years. Signing to Transgressive Records, and playing at Glastonbury's virtual 50th anniversary, being among them. Arlo is definitely on an upwards path to attaining her goals, even though she's still fairly nonchalant in acknowledging them. It can be quite easy to forget that Arlo is still in the early stages of her career, and it seems that she is still struggling to come to terms with it all, herself. "It feels weird that I'm a musician now. It's cool, but it's weird," she giggles, almost incredulously. Growing up in the early-90s, there was never a shortage of female artists to find inspiration from, but there was a distinct lack of representation for POC who identify as queer. While it was easy to find empowerment from the likes of Lil' Kim, TLC, Eve and MĂ˝a; if the music that you were listening to didn't fall into the realms of contemporary R&B, hip-hop or pop, it was challenging to find a face that you could relate to. Arlo remembers experiencing a similar thing, but as a true Leo, she was walking her own path even just a decade ago when she was growing up. "I didn't really feel represented," she says, taking pauses often to contemplate her words. "It was never something that I thought about that much. I felt like maybe I was kind out outside of what I was seeing. I didn't see women of colour â&#x20AC;&#x201C; they were probably out there, but from my perspective â&#x20AC;&#x201C; making the kind of music that I wanted to make." In light of a rise in political activism, the phrase 'be the change you want to see' floats around quite often, and Arlo has been taking this on board with her own personal experiences. "It was difficult at first, but then I realised that I'm gonna have to be that person, and I definitely
"There is so much power in being concise in your words" Arlo Parks would like to be that person for younger people who are feeling the same way, feeling like making music. Hopefully, I can be that to others." It might sound a heavy burden to carry, but Arlo seems to be more than willing to accept the role of being the voice of a "super sad generation" who find comfort in self-deprecating memes and poking fun at the bleakness of existence. Generation Z are more open to encouraging a freedom of expression and wholeheartedly experiencing the angsty feelings that her peers do, which subsequently allows her to fill the void of relatability that she had when she was growing up. Speaking of the openness of Gen-Z, Arlo feels as though we're taking steps in the right direction and that there is slow progress being made, because "younger people at the moment are willing to just unapologetically be themselves, stand up, and talk about things without fear." Endless scrolling on a preferred social media platform, and following the latest TikTok trends are just a few everchanging means of escapism these days. Still, one thing that can always be relied upon is literature and music. With songs reminiscent of distinctly denuded and conversational storytelling similar to Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, Written On The Body by Jeanette Winterson, and, one of her favourites, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Arlo can capture an arid landscape and inject life into it with her expansive language. Recalling a time in her life where there "wasn't anything really exciting going on" – which is almost standard fare for an 11-year-old – Arlo began writing stories recreationally. One of these, a wild adventure reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde, was published in an anthology of short stories, and thus proved to Arlo that she was a cunning wordsmith who was
worthy of exploring a career in the arts; but it was poetry that she eventually found a home in. "Music is a way of processing things that have happened to me or things that have happened around me and just how I see the world," she says, before adding with a laugh: "It is always about me in the less ego[tistical] way." There's an art to finding poetry in the trivial, and Arlo believes that it is something almost anybody can tap into if they really want to – especially in concentrated bursts of creativity. "It's so much harder to convey an emotion in three lines than in a 10-page opus, and I think there is so much power in being concise in your words and being selective," she says. So, for someone so wellversed in the realms of literature, and a plethora of music styles, what is the one thing she wishes that she could put her name to? After a long pause and a very brief and comical thought process of choosing The Bible, Arlo settles on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. A novel that found itself as the "bedrock of an entire culture", and allows her to contemplate what it would be like to have a mind that worked on such a complex level with the ability to "create something that is [still] relevant, almost foreshadowing a lot of the world stuff that is happening now." Steeped in Arlo's creative processes as she creates a microcosm of the generation she exists within, while adding in parallels with 17th-century poets, is a timelessness that transcends the confines of just writing about a singular experience. The release of her most moving single, 'Black Dog', saw Arlo flooded with messages of relatability and gratitude to the point where it signified the need for music to not always have a prescribed meaning so that the listener can assign their own definitions and attachments. "People were saying that they'd hear this on the radio and it opened up a conversation that helped their marriage stay on track, and stuff like that, or shown it to a terminally ill parent, and it helped them stay out of destructive habits. All of those messages and responses made me really see [things in a new light], and I think has changed my perspective on my own music," she opens up. "Once it's out in the world, it takes on almost infinite different forms and means infinite things to different people depending on the context."
The topic of allowing people space for contemplation allows Arlo to find comparisons between revelling in the mystery of art, while revelling in the unknown and introspection of being in lockdown. "People are both intrigued by and terrified of the unknown," she begins, explaining why this is an interesting thing to contemplate. "It's just a constant battle between the way that people have reacted to the unknown, and that feeling of being out of control." Her new single 'Hurt' is inspired by the Audrey Lorde quote, "pain will either change or end", and is based on a friend who used substances to deal with their grief. While it outwardly seems a bleak observation on dealing with your struggles, there is a resounding element of hope that rings through it. "It's just the idea of when you're trapped in those really dark moments, you can feel that is a permanent state, but there is always the capacity for joy. No feelings are permanent or eternal," she explains as a reminder for people who are experiencing darkness. As Arlo gears up for the release of her debut album, which is still in the process of being written, this elongated period of isolation and reflection has proven beneficial. She has been harnessing her creativity through outlets such as cooking, honing her music production skills, and DJing. She even confesses that there were many techno sets being played during the peak of lockdown, as well as her usual activities of journaling and reading poetry. "I've really been thinking about the idea of gratitude and enjoying success, but then [also] never becoming complacent, because, of course, the goalpost keeps moving. But when you do achieve the goal, it's important to recognise that that is a good thing and that you have achieved something," she says. "If you're never satisfied with any of your progress, then the journey isn't even enjoyable." And what a journey Arlo Parks has been on since her debut in late-2018. Her sound sits in the range of lo-fi indie and confessional bedroom pop, and she has dipped her toes into the pools of electronica with 'Romantic Garbage' and 'I Like' - the possibilities are endless for what's to come. "I still haven't found my niche, I would say. I mean, I've established a sound, and it does work, but I really want the umbrella of what the
other parts of the music is about to be very broad. I'm very hesitant to pigeonhole myself this early," she tells me. She may feel out of touch with the inherent internet culture of her generation, but Arlo is a thoroughly enigmatic character to follow on Instagram as she offers snapshots into her daily inspiration as well as snippets into future projects. 'Cola' was recorded while eating noodles, and 'Eugene' was made with pizza on the brain - what kind of cuisine was fuelling the album process? It turns out, Mexican may just be the king of Arlo's eating habits at the moment, with Italian following as a close second. Cooking has proved to be somewhat of a salvation for Arlo, during lockdown. "The idea of actually meditating, like sitting still, is really difficult for me but if I'm cooking, going for a run, or painting; that's meditation." To constantly be moving is to clear the mind and make room for all of her creative endeavours – music, of course, being the main one, even if it doesn't yet feel like a job because everything is still so new and exciting. "When I first started making music – or when this journey began – I vowed to make music that felt true to my vision and be a positive force in my listeners' lives, whether that be on social media, or actually within the art that I'm making," she says. "I believe that I've upheld that, and I think even as things have grown, and the platform has expanded, I feel like I've always kind of tried to be a source of joy and comfort for people and I hope that my music still feels like a safe space to others." There's an undeniable relatability to the charisma that oozes through Arlo's confessional songs. As an empath, it's an incredibly natural byproduct of her selfexpression and is a poetic addition to why we're so enamoured by her. Even though the narratives in her songs are deeply personal, there isn't an ounce of narcissism that can be attached to the art that she creates. As she puts it herself: "Selfishness is misunderstood. You can be selfish in a way that is balanced by just bearing yourself in mind – treating and investing in your own joy is never a bad thing." And on that note, Dear Reader, you'll find us buried in the soothing sounds of Arlo Parks for the foreseeable future… P readdork.com 29.
t turns out that being holed up at his dad's in Cambridgeshire for lockdown has been a welcome relief for singer-songwriter, record producer, YouTuber, and all-round-lovely person Robin Skinner since things started heating up for his musical endeavour, Cavetown.
"I've been trying to reconnect with myself," he says while sat smack-bang in the middle of a quiet wheat field. "I was working so hard last year. It was probably one of the best years of my life, but it was also one of the most stressful, honestly." Lockdown chat is par for the course these days. It's prudent when it comes to a busy bee like Robin, who had, before the world suddenly hit the brakes, started to feel like he was forgetting about himself, "and things that I need outside of music," after "getting a bit swallowed up in touring and my work and stuff. Which is fun in its own way!" Since beginning his YouTube channel way back in 2012 - starting out with covers, before working in some of those magical Cavetown numbers and a bit of homelife action - it's all been on the up and up. Earlier this year, he released his major-label debut, 'Sleepyhead', after self-producing and selfreleasing for years via Bandcamp while on a nearconsistent revolving tour of the US and UK. Not to mention garnering support from The 1975, including a spot at their Finsbury Park extravaganza. "Being at home, especially now that I'm back at my dad's house, it reminds me
where I started, even though I didn't start playing music at this house specifically," he says. "But also just the fact that everyone kind of has to be on the internet now. It's hard for some people who didn't already have a presence, they have to build it now to stay relevant." These times have never been more relevant for Robin and Cavetown. His is an emotional connection that demands a recollection of your own experiences. Couple that with his formative years being spent crafting his channel and figuring out who he is, means he's savvy to the ways of this new online world. "I'm lucky I'm already used to that. I grew up on the internet, and I started my career on the internet. I already have what feels like a friend group in my followers, so this moment of stillness and being at home has encouraged me to pay attention to that a bit more. It's easy to get distracted what with being tired from tour and being so busy, but it has forced me to appreciate it all." The reason Robin has resonated with so many is simply down to the reality of him being utterly relatable. We've all loved and lost, felt the angst of growing up, over-thought too much; but when the ability to process these notions comes from such genteel tunings that nurture the soul, everything gets a little bit easier. Beneath the video for his recent single with Tessa Violet, 'Smoke Signals', sits a comment professing: "Everything he puts out is so peaceful. He's the ultimate 2am-sitting-in-bedoverthinking songwriter." Being someone who doesn't think about all the eyes upon
"I don't know why I want to share, I just do" Cavetown him, having these vines, as he put it, of friendship and understanding wrap themselves gently around his career is a lovely thing. "It is very special. I don't think about it a whole lot. I try not to read comments, not that they're bad comments or anything, I just think as soon as you get in your head that it matters what people say about it, you can spiral easily. "But when I do, I see tonnes of really sweet people. Everyone that follows me is so nice, with people telling me stuff like that. It's a nice side-effect of it. Like, obviously I post stuff for myself, and to help myself feel better at 2am, and I just want to share it. I don't know why I want to share, I just do. And then the fact that that's a reaction that happens is very cool. Yes, very cool," he laughs at his own summarisation. The musical side of Cavetown is one thing - an impressive one-man show of production and talent - but it's his words that guide
WE HEA RT ROBIN!
Games of six degrees of separation are easy when bedroom pop's best connected talent is part of the equation. By: Steven Loftin. Photography: Sarah Louise Bennett.
people. For Robin, who for a long time wanted to be an author, art is a productive release. "In silence, or in my head, or on paper, or through a song - that comes pretty easily to me. I don't even really have to think about it," he says. "So it's interesting how a lot of the time I will write a lyric, I write it just because it feels right. I don't really put much thought into what I'm saying. It feels like something that I have to say; either to myself or just into the void, I guess," he shrugs. "And then people will comment and analyse it, and I'm like, 'Wait, that does make sense!'" Another gentle chuckle. "It's almost like therapy for me in the sense that it's someone else just repeating your own thoughts back to you in a way that you'd never really thought about or considered. Outside perspective of your internal monologue is very interesting, and I guess people get that out of my lyrics because I've seen that people can relate to stuff. It must be helpful to hear an external person openly feeling what you feel." This form of cyclical therapy has been intrinsic to his formative years and growth. "Being able to hear people's interpretations and feel like you're not alone in feeling
certain things definitely helps you grow and feel like it's normal to think the things you do and feel the way you do." It's all about creating space. Space for Robin to understand himself, space for him to breathe and feel like he belongs, along with his millions of followers, and the most dedicated in the Cave Club; the ones creating their own art to reciprocate what Cavetown means to them. It's all very wholesome. "For someone who is alone a lot of the time and is comfortable being alone, it's easy to feel separate from the world. But then when you create a community of people who understand you and tell you about their experiences with similar things, it's like you've created a seat for yourself in a circle of people, and you're all sitting together on cushions and just talking about each other and talking about life." "I've always been the kind of person to, not for any particular reason, but just to naturally isolate myself," he admits. "I'm quite quiet and so I never really put myself in a position to open up to people in that wayâ&#x20AC;Ś except for obviously writing my music and putting it on the internet for people to see." Picking away at the towering bushels surrounding him, Robin is clearly someone who takes notice of the subtleties around him. It's how he has garnered his mass of millions across most internet platforms, but the accompanying tours and shows went against his isolating tendencies. "When I started out, I never considered performing or touring. Just in my nature of being by myself and just quiet and stuff. I've had to learn how to make it work with the way I am," he says. "Being on stage and being centre of attention is kind of foreign, but there are
"If you don't push yourself to try new things and go out of your comfort zone, you can never really grow" Cavetown moments when it hits me that these are people, and this is a roomful of lives and journeys and feelings and experiences. It's very bizarre. It definitely puts perspective on what I do when it's a real room of people. I think lockdown has helped me appreciate that more, because I was getting tired honestly, of touring. It's tiring, and for me being on stage is tiring, like emotionally. "As much as I love meeting people, I'm used to being alone, so it's easier to do that. Now that I've had a long time to be alone, I realise that actually I do get something out of that and I do feed off that validation from an audience. It's something that I missed, and I really hope to be able to do again soon. Maybe in a less full-on schedule!"
Since Cavetown is solely produced from the confines of Robin's bedroom, wherever that may be, the idea of this being a limiting way of working hasn't really crossed his mind. "I feel like I've always just gone with the flow of things," he says, but working in such a natural, predetermined comfort zone means stepping outside of the box is the easiest, yet hardest, way of testing yourself. "There are some things that I am very controlling over, like my songwriting process and my production. I like to do everything myself, and I want that to always be that way. Otherwise, I feel like that loses the bond between myself and Cavetown." "I'm always willing to try new things," he adds. "I even tried working with a producer before, even though I was sceptical about it - I love production, I love doing it myself - and I discovered that that wasn't for me. "My goals are very open really because it's in my best interest to try opportunities and stuff, but also know where my values are and what's important to me and know when to put my foot down about what I want to do, you know? I think if you don't push yourself and if you don't try new things and go out of your comfort zone, you can never really grow." Collaborations are one way Robin figuratively, and occasionally literally, steps out of his bedroom to create. "Collaborations are a good way to meet people," he chuckles. "I think I've made more friends through that and through music than I ever did in school." Partnering with likes of mxmtoon (on her debut album 'the masquerade') and Chloe Moriondo (on his own 'Animal Kingdom' mixtape), it's all a journey for Robin
to learn more about himself, and how far he can go into new territory. "I've done collaborations in the past, and they've been really great. I've made some great friends from them, so it's kind of become a comfort zone now." 'Sleepyhead', another feast of sun-shimmering-ona-calm-river life guidance, is by no stretch an album that Robin wants to forget. In a previous interview, it's mentioned that he found the process stressful, a statement he no longer agrees with. "I didn't like the way I was treating the album and treating myself during the process," he explains. "I had let it get to me that I need to make something better than
I've ever made before - which is what happens every time I write something, and I think is natural for anyone doing creative stuff. You need to be better each time." As for the future, Robin's "definitely trying to slow down a bit." Focusing on ignoring that part of him that is "being too critical, and let myself take my time. When a song comes to me, it comes to me, and I don't want to force one out," he muses. "I have plenty of time, and the world isn't going to run away from me if I take a bit longer, so I'm just letting myself slow down. I think that will end up in things that I'm most proud of, because ultimately I'd rather create a small number
of songs that are really good rather than a whole album that's rushed." Heading back to take some more photos - social distancing included, of course - his cat Fig, leash and all, lolls about the garden, peace radiating down. Even if, globally, there are quite literally millions of people listening and watching Cavetown in the '2am-over thinkers' club, right now, Robin is resetting. "I've discovered the beauty of lying down," he smiles. It's just himself, Fig, and the necessary time to help Cavetown do what he's always done: sit in his room, ruminating on living and growing. P
e o l h C d n o i Mor R IS IN G FA S T !
Young, engaged and with a string of successes behind her already, Chloe Moriondo has the world at her feet. By: Ali Shutler. Photography: Connor Laws.
limate emergencies, a human rights movement, car crash politics and a global pandemic for good measure, the world is in violent flux right now. Meanwhile, a generation are fighting to take control of their own future. It's not the present seventeen-year-old Chloe Moriondo probably dreamt of, but it's one she'll make the best of. "Now is the time for everyone to experiment. Now is the time to grow as a person, as an artist and as whatever the hell you want to be," she starts from her home in Michigan. A musician who found her voice on YouTube and has never been afraid of using it since, she's "always been writing little tunes" and has always been in love with music. When she was a little kid, Chloe was asked what she wanted to do when she was older. "I really loved my mom, and I really loved music. Those were the two things I really liked in my life, so I would say I want to be a singer and a mommy. I don't think I ever pictured doing anything else. Nothing else interested me that much." Armed with an iPod Nano, she listened to everything her parents were into and everything
that was on the radio. At age 12, she started opening the Notes App, writing stuff down and storing it in a special folder. It's still where a majority of her ideas live. "I'm not the most organised person," she admits. "I'm a bit scatterbrained." She, like a lot of kids, would record covers but eventually discovered singersongwriter Dodie's channel and watched as she shared how she wrote original songs. With no barriers and no mystery, Chloe realised she could do it as well. "She did stuff with just her ukulele and her voice. It was really beautiful. I got really inspired by that so started writing my own songs on piano and ukulele, turning my little humming-on-a-bike-ride into something more solid." It's those songs that make up her 2018 'Rabbit Hearted' album. A lush selfreleased, self-produced DIY bedroom pop record, its dreamy escape and conversational lyrics struck a chord with teenagers across the world. The gorgeous Cavetown-produced 'Spirit Orb' EP followed in 2020 and provided a comforting getaway-soundtrack while throwing an even bigger spotlight Chloe's way. "It sounds kinda depressing saying I've always been an escapist person, but
"There's something really fascinating and awesome about writing songs that can take you somewhere else" Chloe Moriondo
it definitely doesn't have to always be in a 'I hate my life, get me out of here' kinda thing." Chloe loved getting lost in fantasy books when she was younger, drawn to the endless potential they offered, and that's never gone away. "There's something really fascinating and awesome to me about writing songs that can take you somewhere else, where you can be whatever the hell you want." Sometimes that's for adventure, "Sometimes there are problems you do
want to get away from though and that exists for everyone. It definitely existed for me." High school and middle school weren't easy for Chloe. "I was going through some shit," she starts. "They don't tell you that it's the worst time ever when you're at school because they don't want to make you feel bad, but it definitely is. I wrote basically all my songs in that time period. A lot of that is me dreaming about where else I could be, where I'm going to be in the future and what I would want to be." Written while "stewing in the crap that I was dealing with in my own room, it's very Teenage Angst stuff, and I'm so glad there are people who like it, and can relate to it still. There's a lot of it I still relate to, just in different ways now." Now she's graduated the suffocatingly intense boiling pot of High School, Chloe's realised, "there's a whole world out there." As someone who has spent the past few years dreaming of what's waiting for her, she can't wait to dive in. "I'm excited to keep writing more songs in the same vein as what's come before, but also do some more crazy shit. I can do whatever I want. "I always imagined myself doing more than just singing with a ukulele. There are people who do just sit alone
with one instrument and do incredible, fantastic things, but that's not the height of what I pictured for myself." 'Spirit Orb' was "a very transitionary EP" for her. Working with Cavetown ("my first real friend in music, he's so fucking cool") on her first professional project, she saw him take her ideas and transform them into something even bigger. "I did 'Rabbit Hearted' all alone in my room. Now I was in London, watching Robin do all these sick things and hearing the songs a lot more fleshed out, it was super inspiring." Despite always wanting to write music with more dimensions to it, "I didn't think I could just do it. There was some sort of glass wall in my mind." 'Spirit Orb' changed all that. "I went from 'oh, I'm just writing these
little songs on my ukulele, and I might sing them in my room on this illegal version of Logic that I did not pay for" - she has a paid-for, legal version now, Logic Lawyers - "to realising I could really do this. I heard my songs get made into these sick, bandorientated songs that I could play with other people, and I knew that it could be a lot bigger than just me alone on stage." It was a real 'oh shit' moment. "I realised I could make any sort of sound I want. I love all types of music, and I've always been super obsessed with having a really cool, varied sound. That record really did open up my eyes to what else I could do with my stuff." As soon as she got home from London, she wrote the dreamy indie-pop banger of 'Manta Rays'. Released a few
months after 'Spirit Orb', it's a coming-of-age track that trembles with new beginnings and isn't afraid to get noisy. The first song she ever wrote on guitar, "it's really a very cathartic song for me. I wrote it on my bedroom floor when I was still so tired after that really long trip, I knew it was going to get somewhere but only if I took it there." With 'Rabbit Hearted' and sometimes on 'Spirit Orb', "I was singing very quietly. You could fall asleep to that music, which isn't a bad thing, but I didn't always want that for my stuff. It was a very new experience to be playing guitar and singing in whatever style I wanted. It felt very cool." It's not a one-off either. She's spent lockdown doing writing sessions that "were weird to start with, as a 17-year-old who's never
really done music with anyone else before this year but I've found my own groove. I've been able to do a lot of cool stuff that I'm really excited about, that I wouldn't have been able to if I wasn't open to the idea of working with others. It's definitely expanded my horizons." That can be heard across brand newie 'I Want To Be With You', a grunge-infused burst of power-pop that is as loud as it is brilliant. Full of "High School lesbian angst, it's trying to come out of that bubble where you're not exactly sure what to say to someone," she explains. "You don't know how to express yourself, and you're nervous as hell. It's another very cathartic song for me. I've been writing lots of songs where I can scream, sing and play some guitar." There's a renewed direction across 'Manta Rays' and 'I Want To Be With You' as Chloe breaks new ground. She's not done exploring yet, either. "I'm definitely in a sandbox period of where exactly I'm going. I'm trying to make my own amalgamate noise of all these early-2000 girl pop songs and 90s emo guitar music. I'm trying to make some new wave, old Avril (Lavigne) so bad recently." Inspired by the explosion of 00's pop-punk that dominated the charts back then (when all these pages were trees), "It's been really fun making some familiar-sounding stuff to me. I listened to that music so much growing up. I always wanted to do this, and now I get to, that's crazy." Shaking off the girl-withthe-ukulele image that seems to haunt a lot of people who came up a similar way, Chloe knows "there are some people who came for a different version of me than I am now. There are people who want the 15-year-old version of me, which is a little odd. Actually, it's very odd when I think of it that way, and I think about it a lot, to be honest. I'm not going to play dumb, there's a lot of layers to that." But rather than worrying about what the faceless internet might say, she's inspired by the generational energy around her. "There are a lot of talented people, growing just like me, who are learning about different styles or things they like. There are some really awesome,
supportive people on every platform who I think are still going to be there. I don't think there's any point sitting here and worrying about whether this version of me that makes me feel happier and more myself, makes other people feel less good. There are definitely some YouTube comments that are always going to be there, but I'm cool with it." Despite her music being used as an escape for Chloe and her audience, she uses her platform to talk about real-world things. She's collaborated with The Ally Coalition for a Zoom discussion with the Ruth Ellis Center and Lambda Legal to talk about how they're helping to create a supportive community alongside young LGBTQ+ people. She released an acoustic track, 'Living Virtually', as part of the National Independent Venue Association's #SAVEOURSTAGES campaign. She's been a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter ("I know this is really scary, but please care more for the lives of black people than you do for staying neutral or staying quiet"), and has been encouraging people to register to vote and educate themselves ahead of the US Elections. "It's definitely difficult to exactly say in words what's happening and what exactly we should be doing, especially because the situation isn't focused on people like me right now. People like me are the ones who should be listening and supporting, so I'm just learning, growing, doing stuff with people that I know could help me and trying my best to stay open to things," she starts. Artists speaking up for the things they believe in always leads to Flag Twitter piping up with tired criticism. If Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello is going to get told 'stick to the music, pal', Chloe was always going to get furious, insecure blokes asking 'you're only seventeen, what do you know?'. "It's definitely a thing I've been nervous about for a while. Growing up, I was fully on the internet. I was born in 2002, so my whole generation is very Internet Kid. Being exposed to everything that I know has happened, and I know is still happening, it's changed
"Cavetown was my first real friend in music, he's so fucking cool" Chloe Moriondo what I believe in. I'm trying to do what's right, and I'm trying to encourage the kids that I know are really cool and follow me for whatever reason, to do the same." It's not always easy speaking to your mates. "I try not to tell people exactly what to do, or act like I know exactly what is best. Right now is a crucial time for me to learn, to keep my mind open and to correct others if I know they need to be. I want to encourage people to be active in what they believe in, especially when it comes to human rights, the rights of their friends, their family, themselves and people they don't know who deserves to be treated just the same as everyone else. There are a lot of core things that I believe in, that a lot of people that are supporting me also believe in. I've been trying to really connect with that, speak out alongside them and try to encourage more people to act, without being too timid." Being fearless, being brave, being loud are all things Chloe is embracing as she moves through 2020. Rather than the back-andforth conversational lyrics that fuelled her earlier work, 'Manta Rays' and 'I Want to Be With You' are to-thepoint and capture a person who knows exactly what she wants. It's the same energy with her standing up and speaking out about the state of the world. ,"I've always been a little weird with my lyrics but now, especially, I've been saying whatever the hell I want 'cos I think I can. Now is the time. Honesty is important in the art you're trying to give other people. Sure, there are some people who like to be more reserved, and I get it, but personally,
the most important part of my music is that I'm super honest about the stuff I talk about and do." Her future is uncertain, there's no blueprint for where bedroom pop goes next, but Chloe is fine with that. "I have no idea where I'm going to be a year from now, and that excites the hell out of me. I definitely feel confident in where I want to go and where I'm aiming. But also, most of that confidence comes from the fact that I really don't know. I'm just excited to keep doing this shit and to keep making more stuff that I didn't think I could make before." Which includes the outside possibility of a Cavetown, mxmtoon and Chloe Moriondo supergroup. "That'd be super sick. I want to. I'm open to it. We're all friends, I don't see why they wouldn't be up for it." Change is coming for everyone. "That's what's keeping me from being terrified of it. Everyone goes through change, whether you're working out if you want to go to college, start a career or whatever. I'm going to try my best to ride through it." "I'm trying to prove to myself and everyone else, I can do whatever the hell I want," Chloe starts with a grin. She's not that 15-yearold kid with a ukulele anymore. "The older I get, the more I realise I'm just the same as all these other people that I idolise. I spent so long thinking 'I want to be like X, but I never could'. Now though, there's really not that much of a reason why I couldn't. I have a lot of resources at my hands that I'm very grateful to have." Resources, and plenty of ambition. "I've just been a lot more confident in general just because I know that things could go really well if I continue to just keep grounded in what I want and stay open to other voices and opinions. I'm 17 now, and I feel like I could do a lot more than I realised when all this stuff started happening." Actively pushing for change, Chloe Moriondo isn't scared of whatever comes next. "I'm trying to step outside of my comfort zone. I'm definitely still nervous about stuff, everything makes me nervous all the time, but I'm more excited than anything. That overpowers everything else." Bring it on. P readdork.com 37.
With his now out much-anticipate i d D o m i n i c n t h e w o r l d fo r d e b u t a l b u m all to he F i ke h a s By: Jam ar, a r r i ve d . ie Muir. Photo gr ap
n i m o D e k Fi h y : Ad r i
C OV E R
S TO RY
ho are you? What do you want to be? What do you want to do? They're big questions, and there have never been more possible answers. In an age where at a click of a button and 20 mins of free time, you could be on whatever path you like - the most exciting artists on the planet are doing just that. It's not about being defined by one occasion or one track, it's standing for more than
that. If there's anyone on the planet capturing that right now, it's Dominic Fike. 100s of millions of streams later, he finds himself in a position he'd never have thought possible: on top of the world. But what now? "If this has taught me anything, it's do whatever the fuck you want." It's no surprise that freedom is firing through Dominic Fike. It's been exactly what he's all about since the very beginning. From word of mouth sensation to viral trailblazer and global
powerhouse in a matter of years - he's become the artist you simply have to know about right now. Not that attention is particularly playing on his mind. In fact, as he wanders through his LA home and ponders his journey so far, keeping himself removed from the millions plugging into his every move is exactly what's needed. "I've seen some of the reactions, but I'm trying to stay away from it as much as possible," he admits. "People have been nice about it, some
people definitely have too much shit to say, but I've realised that when I like a song or artist, I don't really go and look at the views on a track or the comment section. Maybe I'm a different person, but I've been very present in my life with everyone that's around me instead so I'm on my phone less. Which is good, I'm happy." The "it" in question just happens to be Dominic's debut album, 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong', a longawaited opening statement
of intent from an artist all too aware of the responsibility that comes with such a moment. "I didn't think releasing it would be so relieving as it is," he adds. A world of pressure and awareness circling around his head while he worked away at it. "It scared the shit out of me. I didn't realise how much it was weighing on me just having that album there and ready to go, and then having to think about what would happen when I released it. The fact it's already happened and
c i n readdork.com 39.
nobody's dead, and the sky didn't fall on us, then wow - it's relieving. My days are easier now." He needn't have worried. 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong' is the sort of debut album that glues the play button down on first listen; a bewitching mix of alt-indie, swaggering hip-hop, epic pop and bubbling darkness that takes the experimental leanings of Frank Ocean and Post Malone and blends them into a distinctively fresh new cocktail. The sound of an artist taking the scattered world of music he'd dip into and making it into his own voice, there's no surprise it's already captured the hearts of millions across the globe. It's not about answering one question, but asking ten times as many. The result is an artist unlike any other. "I'd say mainly that I'm pretty slutty with music," he cracks. "I'll move on to something else and suck it dry, and then move on to try something else. Sometimes I'll stay on something a long time if I like it, but I don't know. I'm just doing what I want to do because I think that's what people care about the most. If you make shit because of other people, it's not going to connect." He stops and points at his chest. "You have to speak from here."
It's where Dominic Fike has been his whole life. Intrinsically
linked to those around him, his community, his family and friends - it's at the forefront of his mind from day one. You can't build a world without a core after all. "My mum used to listen to everything," remembers Dominic, peering back to those early days growing up in Naples, Florida. Life had its challenges, but if anything those sounds that he'd hear bursting from his mum's collection were the first chips at his vast musical taste now. "She had this wildly eclectic taste when growing up, but mainly R&B. She listened to a lot of Usher and just loved him. I'd hear the Jackson 5 or Biggie, it was a super musical household." It didn't mean that music was the one and only. Dominic would find admiration in figures that would find enjoyment and themselves in doing something they're deeply passionate about. "I'd watch music videos all the time on like MTV. Like me and groups of friends sitting in the living room just eating snacks or whatever, while we looked at a big screen with Eminem and Gwen Stefani looking right down the camera at you. I admired these people and what they were doing, but I also admired actors and all types of things. Even athletes." It was clear that Dominic wanted to do something more. "I
knew I didn't want to just go and fucking work at a coffee shop, but I didn't know I wanted to be a musician. I definitely wanted to be something that was fulfilling to me no matter what, and I didn't know what that meant, but I had that feeling." Mixed in with the usual trials and tribulations of growing up, Dominic threw his hand at everything. There was skating, at a point thinking he would go on to become a professional skater. There was sports, including football/soccer, before he realised that he wasn't really the 'teamsport' kinda person. There was the time he considered becoming a professional poker player. Even joining the military came into his head at one point ("then I thought about having to merk people and was like that doesn't sound easy. Maybe not that" he smiles). But in music, he began to notice that he would keep coming back to it. From being in a rap group when he was young alongside his older brother and his friends, that storytelling ability began to shine. A place where Dominic could put every emotion he was feeling and craft stories witnessed around him into a creative outlet. "We kinda made it," remembers Dominic, "and it began to take over my life slowly. I'd dropped out of school for it and without realising it that was everything I was doing at the moment." It's where his broad tastes came to the fore. Across the movement of spinning South Florida rap at one moment, the experimental flourishes of Earl Sweatshirt the next and the early jags of Travis Scott just after. The "stuff that gives you goosebumps and shit with good beats, that's really good for the back of your head." He'll tell you exactly why the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Greatest Hits' was an album he looked at and went, "that's the kinda album I wanted to make" with a laugh, while noting how Weezer and The Beatles pulled him more towards the swinging rock and indie sounds you can hear peppered across 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong'. Dominic was simply enjoying mixing it all up and creating something surprising out of it all. Constantly creative. "I would make parody songs, songs that would just make people laugh. People would come over, and I'd be like yo check this out, and we'd all laugh and then go on with something else. It was something I always did. I would make music. Make little shit for my friends - you know, one of those weird creative kids who make shit, and
it's like 'ahh cool, now let's go smoke some weed'." Parodies turned to something more personal quickly. He picked up the guitar for the first time in years, and things began to click even more. "I was listening to music so much, so many bands and that guitarbased shit. I actually forgot I played the guitar for like 5 years and then my girlfriend at the time bought me a guitar for Christmas. I was like, 'oh yeah', and I got obsessed with it like kinda how I did the first time I had it. This time I had learnt more stuff and my fingers weren't as clumsy, and I was a bit smarter in learning things and searching out things." When he showed his new creations to those close to him, people were surprised but blown away by what he was making. "It was a great feeling," he smiles, "people were like 'wow' and we would play it all the time. I was really proud of that." This new direction found him capturing what he was feeling in a completely different way, one that before just didn't feel right. Showing to one friend led to that friend showing another, and before long, there was a network of those around him excited to see where the Dominic Fike story would turn next. What nobody could have predicted is the run of events that came too. A series of events saw Dominic end up in jail, and while locked up on his birthday, he decided he needed to put some music out there. With the latest demos he'd been working on, the result was 'Don't Forget About Me, Demos' - "Demos" being the vital note there. It blew up, with countless people discovering Dominic Fike for the first time - with a collection boasting a full mix of different styles and songwriting that he'd been working on since the very beginning. One such track sitting on the collection was '3 Nights', the track that would go on to take the world by storm and fully launch him into a whole different sphere. It was a rush that Dominic wasn't entirely prepared for. "The way my shit hit was so instant and so hard," he remembers. "It knocked me off my feet, and I needed to take some time to find my balance again. It started becoming nerve-wracking when all this shit took off, when people have a certain idea of who
“The way my shit hit was so instant and so hard” Dominic Fike and what you should be. Now everybody saw, and still do, to be honest, saw me as this person that's just supposed to be better and better each time, which kinda fucks with me." He took his time. Shaping and learning the sounds he wanted to create, getting out and playing shows and connecting to a newfound audience. It was the only way to comprehend the sudden change in his life and how suddenly, all eyes were on him. "Yeah, that time for me…" he begins "… that time for me was kinda sad because it kinda felt like I had lost that connection to the people I'd been showing it all too at the start. For a while, I struggled with that, but the people around me have made me realise that there's a way I can still know these people and connect with them. Having a bigger audience isn't a bad thing, you've just got to figure it out. It's a thing that comes with a certain responsibility. Remaining connected to people, it's something I'm learning and getting better at every day. I'm getting more optimistic, I suppose." With the world at his feet, Dominic picked up his belongings and headed to Los Angeles, via a small detour to Colorado. "I saw the snow. I'd never seen snow in my life so I thought I can go and do this now, so I did, which was tight! The music I made there was cool, but it was kinda sad. I was in a cabin on my own. After a while, the time started to wither away, and so did my mental health. I needed to go somewhere that was fun." Jumping between different houses, he found a new community of friends and creatives all invested in each other. He turns the camera to show off his new house now - "I love this place, it's like 100 years old in Hollywood with loads of friends living nearby. Good food too, so I'm chilling! It definitely helped
with my music too, all that moving around and getting to know this place helped me make music about it, which was much different to anything I would have made in Florida. Florida was nothing like this or anything I was involved with." It all helps take 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong' to new terrains; that ability to whip up a melody and try anything that comes in front of him is there at every turn. Just click play on 'Chicken Tenders' and its light pop grooves. Or the thundering bass and jangled indie licks of 'Why'. Or even the menacing undertones of 'Politics & Violence' and the Nine Inch Nails scratches of 'Come Here'. It gave him that added confidence in a new home and surrounding, both literally and in his new standing as an artist millions were invested in. "I think what really settled in, was that I had control over this all. That really settled in," he notes. "If I want to be sad about this and think it's impossible to handle or manage, then I can do that, or I can do the opposite. I control this shit regardless. Even with what I was physically doing before, just sitting around and being sad - that also was controlling the way my music was going. I was like, 'oh my god, I really do enjoy this'. It settled in." The idea of stopping? Or thinking about it all too much? Forget it. "A lot of people do that too much - sit themselves down and reassure themselves about what they're going to go and do, but you've got to just be doing it all with your eyes closed. Sprinting forward, there's no other way."
With one milestone down, Dominic Fike is free to do, well, whatever he pleases.
The tunnel vision of getting a debut album out now in his rearview mirror, there are grander plans afoot. "You know what?" he interjects, halfway through chatting about what he wants to do next. "I remember wanting to be an animator when I was younger too. Drawing is something I really enjoy doing and was obviously big into anime, animation and those Disney movies…" He wanders off deep in thought. "I still think I have a chance to do that actually, I'm gonna work towards that this year. To be a part of that process. If not, I'll get my foot in the door with music and then be like, 'but I
really want to get involved in the storytelling!'" It's impossible to rule anything out with Dominic Fike. A story of music, determination and resilience changing lives, as an outlet it's become a vital part of his DNA. "More than ever now too," he adds. "It's so relieving to be able to create music and write. During the making of the album, maybe there were times where it wasn't. Putting so much pressure on what I was doing and seizing up a bit because of it but now it's like okay - do whatever you want to do. Whatever makes you happy." "Even with shit reviews now, at least that's over with it doesn't matter! I don't give a fuck, dude." Delivering on every drop of hype that's come his way, right now feels like the beginning. The opening reveal of an artist who seems destined to define an entire generation. They're big words, but if anyone has that potential it's Dominic Fike. "I know what I'm going to do next," he admits. "I'm still working, just always making songs. I'm making a bunch of stuff right now because I don't feel like I've done it all or explored everything yet. I think when musicians take breaks for a long amount of time they just feel like they, I dunno, need more ideas or have exhausted all their resources so need to take some time to work out what comes next. I haven't. I'm actually finding more music than ever, trying out all these different sounds and lanes. I'm still exploring so I won't be stopping anytime soon." "I want to be able to put on grand performances too, that's
what I want to work towards. I never really went to concerts when I was younger, but I see how much fun people have and when you watch that, like when you watch that Queen movie, and it just gives you goosebumps, and you're like wow… you can do that for people? I want to do that for people." Dominic gazes upwards again. "Not even related to music, but I really want to get involved in cooking on a grand scale in some way. Whether that's opening a restaurant or creating some type of food service for people where I'm involved." The ideas keep spilling out of Dominic Fike's mouth. He's feverishly excited about what he could work on next, and grateful to be in a position where he is able to dip into whatever he likes. He praises and speaks with love of the people who've stuck by his side and been there for him through thick and thin. Of wanting to give back to those people and make sure everyone is alright. But above all else, he's hungry for more. Now he's firmly on the road, he's ready to pull some wheelies. "I want to make some really good albums where I can just go listen to them whenever. I want such a large catalogue that it's like, okay, what else is there to do? Let's create some weird shit." Who is Dominic Fike? Where will he be in 5 years time? Not even Dominic Fike has an idea of that, but he sure as hell is going to have fun finding out. The world is watching. P Dominic Fike's
album 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong' is out now. readdork.com 45.
ho doesn't love a game? Well,
one is certainly afoot with mystical, timetravelling, pop-culture-referencing beings I Don't Know How But They Found Me. It's been a few years since the mysterious duo appeared on stage at Emo Nite in LA, with a buzz around them gaining pace quicker than you can say "Isn't that the guy from that band?!" Initially denying everything, even when presented with actual photographic evidence, the purported mastermind Dallon Weekes admitted that yes, there was a band, completed by electric-blue haired drummer and backing vocalist Ryan Seaman, and iDKHOW is their name. Cue a string of fantastically retro videos, right down to the grainy VHS footage of a long-forgotten talent show, infomercials with more layered context than a lasagna, plus a minefield of clues as to just what they're about, and finally the long-awaited album is here. Well, almost. With even more being teased to the story, and everything unravelling like a well-designed murder mystery (just without, y'know, a murder), it sounds like Dallon is ready for the follow-up to debut EP '1981 Extended Play'. "When we first started, we had our own timeline and our own plans for releasing music. The first year or so that we existed we operated in total secrecy, and denied that we even existed at all," Dallon remembers. "It took a minute for us to get the ball rolling and build from the ground up, which is what we wanted to do. We didn't want to use any of our other past employment to build a name for ourselves." One thing's for certain, iDKHOW have built a name for themselves. One away from Dallon's previous home in Panic! At The Disco, and it's all rooted in one idea: "Making music and making art. It's supposed to be fun," he enthuses. "When people start to make it not fun - or if you start to make it not fun, you have to change something, otherwise, what's the point? Sat in his home studio dissecting the road already travelled, Dallon has been vying for this moment. With the announcement of their debut 'Razzmatazz', the whirring cogs of their burgeoning fanbase's minds have been sent into overdrive. "We wanted to leave enough room for people's imaginations to wander around in this idea," he pauses. "I remember watching this horror movie documentary talking to all these famous legendary horror movie directors, and one of them said: 'The thing that's behind the door is always scarier in your imagination'. It's always scarier until you see it and then you go, 'Oh that's not as scary as what I imagined'. Leaving room in the fictional narrative has created a lot of interesting theories that I've seen people talk about in
Grainy VHS footage? Check. Mysterious figures loitering in the background? Check. Sparkling pop jams with depth and meaning? Check, check and check. It's iDKHOW's time to shine. By: Steven Loftin. Photography: Lauren Perry.
IN C O M IN G !
places like Reddit, and some of it is way better than what I've come up with," he chuckles. "It's really interesting to see. Sometimes I'll read through, and I go, I gotta use that idea!" Fans are the intricate network that brings lifeblood to iDKHOW. In the same way, back in Dallon's day, if you wanted to know something about a band, you had to work for it - you couldn't just bash in a name on Google et voila, you've got their star sign and their dog's name. In fact, they were untouchable beings that existed in this realm of possibility, with their existence given by someone's want to know 'em. Which is where the idea to spin a tale of a band forgotten to time comes into play. Born from learning about real bands who fall to the wayside, it started "to develop as we were recording the EP," he says. "I would get lost into these weird YouTube holes, and talent shows and stuff from local TV access cable channels from 1982. I wanted to be on these shows, so that's where the idea of us being this forgotten-about band started because that's a pretty common story in music. "There are so many wonderfully talented people that write genius music, and create genius art, but never really reach that next level, just because of luck. They don't know the right person or that next step just never comes, and it's a tragedy. Really, I discovered a lot of really great amazing music." Sowing the seed for the idea was Dallon's own experience of the need to "put in the footwork" when discovering bands of his own. "You just happened to see The Cure on MTV because a friend has MTV at their house - this is what happened to me. I saw The Cure music video, I think it was for 'Wrong Number', and I was like, 'What the hell is this?!'" He marvels, eyes widening. "And so then I had to go to my local record shop and look through magazines and learn everything that I could about The Cure, and lo and behold, they've been around for 20plus years before I'd ever heard of them. I had a lot of wonderful things to discover all at once, but it's a little bit different now." Mentioning groups like Detroit punk-trio Death "who
were ahead of their time, who, just because of circumstance, were forgotten about," the basis for the fictional iteration of iDKHOW holds the same essence, just with an extra understanding of how things can go down in the following years and decades. "As we've moved on we never want to have to do the same thing twice," he continues on the narrative development. "So with a new record, rather than completely throw that idea away, we've decided to just twist it a little bit, and pull the curtain back a little bit more and take a lefthand turn. People will see that narrative shift once videos and that start to fall out." Theoretically, there are three Dallon's. The one on a Zoom call with Dork today sat back in his studio chair; there's fictional Dallon from the iDKHOW lore, kicking about in the mysterious tapes from the 80s; and there's also songwriter Dallon, since the songs also belong in their own universe. That seems like a lot of work?! "It's not that difficult because I grew up idolising artists that did similar things, this isn't anything new," he says nonchalantly. "David Bowie did it with 'Ziggy Stardust', and The Beatles did it with 'Sgt. Pepper's'. I think those are both great examples of how artists can create a fictional narrative around an album, and that's something that has always really entertained me. "I remember being a teenager and poring over the artwork for 'Sgt. Pepper's' and looking at all these clues that are supposed to be in there. Some of them were intentional, and some of them were not. That lore was created by the fans and letting fans imaginations run with it. And you know mine certainly did so the inspiration for what we do, I think has probably got to start with, with artists like that." There's no denying that iDKHOW fans have let the lore run away with them, but that's all part of the fun; escapism, especially in such turbulent times, and with such a soundtrack rife with rampant energy to boot, will always be alluring. But with the story unravelling in such staggered drops, in part due to the band using that breathing space to make sure it evolves in a way they want it to, and in part
due to circumstances out of their control, bouncing off their own ideas keeps the left turns coming. The internet loves a mystery. "You can access anything instantaneously, so discovering things, I feel like maybe I could be wrong, but discovering things now has a little less weight. Back then you had to do all this footwork; you had to go here, you had to chase it
down. So putting all that effort into something that you discovered that struck a chord with you, it helped it to make it mean more." Which explains, partly, why iDKHOW's fanbase is growing at an astonishing rate - they're a band with a mystery that, if you do want to put the work in, you're rewarded with this everexpanding idea. If you don't, there are still plenty of bright,
vintage-pop-indebted tracks to dive into. "All of the narratives that we've created, the fictional story, are based on things that are real, but they're presented more metaphorically, and things like the White Shadow." Dallon points to a mask hung on a speaker in the background. "Some fans have noticed that it's an Easter egg that's appeared in just about everything that we've done,"
he says. "And it's certainly representative of something I haven't really discussed. Maybe I'll talk about that specifically one day, but everything that we're doing is symbolic or representative of something else." Both iDKHOW and 'Razzmatazz' could be seen as a reflection of society given the nature of the narrative, the music dealing with Dallon's own experiences while the
visual elements take on a more direct approach. "Either a reflection or reaction," Dallon nods. "That's what art and music are, or at least should be. And I think that's what art should be. All too often it's treated as a product, like Pepsi or Coke, and it's a shame to see that happen because there's plenty of good artists who are certainly talented, but they throw that sound away in
favour of commercialism, and maybe I'm getting a little bit too philosophical here because I know that that's certainly part of it - you want to sell your art to keep the lights on, the bills paid." More reflection on these ideas appears in the iDKHOW world, such as the video for 'Social Climb', billed as a long-lost corporate propaganda film, or the Top Of The Pops-influenced 'Choke'. Given Dallon's own journey has included being part of a very successful rock band, he's felt that level of achievement. Now he's just trying to clear out the usual band clutter of, "Follow us here! Check out our new video! Subscribe to this!" "I honestly don't care if you do any of those things with us," he shrugs. "Subscribe, follow along if you want to, but that whole first year that we got started was really a great reminder of what music was when I first got started; just a band in a room playing for a bunch of strangers and trying to gain people's attention, based on your art." Mentioning that any notion of using his previous success to inflate iDKHOW would've felt "disingenuous", Dallon knew the only way to make people care was "by starting as any other band would; from the ground up. Doing something like that was more of a challenge because of the band I've been in before." "That's the idea behind the 'Razzmatazz' too," he says of the album. "Pulling the curtain back on a lot of my life experiences from the last 10 years or so. I think people see show business, and they see LA and Hollywood as this big, bright beacon of culture, and it's so wonderful to be there that's where I had been living; I'm back in my hometown of Salt Lake City now." Learning more about Dallon's experiences gives the fictional narrative surrounding iDKHOW more clout. The 'timeline' version of the band are ones who get sucked into being corporate shills. They leave themselves as these beings that are at the beck and call of a higher power, with the artistry falling behind until they resurface in some dusty VHS tapes in an unknown basement. "A lot of the themes and songs on the record are about my time there, and things
"If you start to make it not fun, you have to change something, otherwise, what's the point?" Dallon Weeks that I saw and experienced," he explains. "A lot of people are really enamoured with Los Angeles and Hollywood and entertainment business culture, but to me, it's this weird decaying city that's obsessed with itself, almost like the embodiment of narcissism. People step on each other's necks to get another dollar and to get their face closer to the spotlight, and it's so bizarre to me. That's not the world that I come from and that's not the world that I want to inhabit." For many musicians, making music is a way to help deal with difficult situations and feelings. "It's how you process traumatic events, or anger, or just any kind of emotion really," Dallon says. "And it's almost like expelling it or exorcising it from your memory and from your person. It's getting to externalise in a healthy way, almost like therapy." "The things that I'm singing about on this record are very real to me, things that mean a lot," he adds. "Maybe this fictional narrative is my way of protecting myself from this very real stuff that I'm singing about. Sort of like a
shield, or a security blanket to keep people from seeing too much." Despite this, the music that Dallon creates is exceptionally fun; 'Razzmatazz' is filled with the energy of a band who are deep in their own world, and the meaning behind its title is more than befitting of iDKHOW. "It's something along the lines of a big showy event that's meant to distract and impress," Dallon says. "It's an old slang term from like the 1930s, or even earlier, it might even come from Vaudeville. I'm not sure how old it is, but it's certainly an outdated slang word. It's one that's always been in my head since I was a kid, I've got an affinity for outdated slang, and I think there's a certain charm and certain irony in humour to it. "That word, in particular, was part of the kids show that we would watch at school when we had music lessons. Our teacher would wheel in the TV and put in a VHS tape of this music programme called The Music Machine. It was this super low budget, public Canadian educational TV show, but the host was this woman who would start each show by asking this giant computer, this music machine, to 'Play us some razzmatazz' and I never forgot that theme song." It turns out there are also a few other things that use that magical word, including "a Pulp song that I didn't know. I love Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, their song is fantastic. The other thing I learned about it is that Jamba Juice has a [similarly named] flavour of a shake; no idea what that tastes like. So there's either some sort of potential crosspromotion or a lawsuit just waiting," he laughs, taking a swig from a big mug. There's more to come from iDKHOW, but what that looks like, who knows? Even Dallon only has a faint idea. The breathing space between projects, be they videos or tracks, allows for natural experimentation, meaning Dallon can take things wherever he wants. When the world stops, iDKHOW keep going. Even if their secrets are to still be revealed... "I think whether you try to or not change creeps its way in," Dallon muses. "Jeff Goldblum would say, 'Life finds a way'." P iDKHOW's
debut album 'Razzmatazz' is out 16th October.
or most musicians, life has been a bit different lately. This isn’t the case for mxmtoon, though. The 20-year-old Californian, also known as Maia, is pretty used to being tucked away in her room, making music and virtually collaborating, making, as they call it, ‘bedroom pop’.
Being stuck in our homes might be suffocating for most of us, but when you're a bedroom pop sensation like mxmtoon, you may as well get creative. By: Abigail Firth. Photography: Sarah Louise Bennett.
I A L LY
AC E !
“I don’t mind it at all. I could just sit inside and play video games or watch TV every single day if I had the choice to,” Maia says from her apartment in Brooklyn, a place she’s only just gotten back to after a few months quarantining in her hometown of Oakland with her family. “Right now I don’t have a choice, I kind of have to do that anyways. But I am like a really big introvert, so I was optimistic going into this whole thing, like it’ll be totally fine, I’ll just do what I normally do.” In between playing Animal Crossing and making TikToks (relatable queen), she released EP ‘dawn’ in the spring, which thanks to her tendency to look inwards and love for spending time home alone came out just at the right time. “Thematically it ended up being pretty appropriate and just having songs that felt like they looked a little bit more externally and hopefully gave people an optimistic edge to what is rather pessimistic and really negative and scary about our world right now. I think people felt happy that there was something that kind of reflected what they were feeling in the moment even though the songs when I wrote them were not what I thought they were going to be for later on.” So while plenty of musicians have spent the last few months mourning the loss of touring and partying, that hasn’t necessarily been the case for Maia (who says she left her prom after an hour and ended up writing a song about it). However, she has been readjusting to her old ways of emailing collaborators about songs; obviously, a very annoying thing to happen after waiting so long to get into the studio with other people IRL. “All I knew for a very long time was how to like email people back and forth on a song and collaborate that way.” Yep, Maia was doing those overseas collabs long before ‘all of this’. In fact, fellow Dork cover star Cavetown produced her hit ‘prom dress’ from his own room. “When I finally got introduced to the in-person collaboration where you’re sitting with someone, you can have a conversation with them instead of waiting for an email, after the time zone reaches the proper time for them to be awake, I realised how much I love that experience. I kind of grew less familiar with it after a certain time period, so now I’m back in it, and it’s definitely a whole different way to use your brain and different style of collaboration.” mxmtoon’s debut album ‘the masquerade’ was released in late-2019, and stuck to the stripped-back sound readdork.com 51.
she’d cultivated in her YouTube videos and early self-released singles. Switching producers and moving the process to the studio naturally changed up her sound when it came to creating ‘dawn’, which followed a brighter, dreamier sound, but it was also the time where she pushed herself to pursue a more ambitious vision. “I really wanted to make songs where, it’s hard to explain it, but if I heard myself on a playlist, in the right style of what I was aiming for, I wouldn’t feel so out of place.” This is an interesting note, considering the soaring popularity of bedroom pop lately. She’s pretty likely to be playlisted beside her contemporaries like Beabadoobee, girl in red, and Benee, as well as good pals Cavetown and Chloe Moriondo (“a lot of my friends happen to be some of my favourite artists, so I’m definitely a little bit biased,” she says of the two). But if the sound Maia was going for on ‘dawn’ is somewhere in between Kacey Musgraves, Clairo and Conan Gray, she slides in perfectly. “I think sometimes a lot of my journey as a musician is about this feeling of imposter syndrome and not really knowing if I belong within the spaces the music industry, as you know, a young woman of colour, a queer person, if I get playlisted with some other people that I really look up to, I’m like, well, I don’t know if I belong here. “I’ve come to accept that obviously, music is subjective, art is subjective and nothing is going to be the right thing, but I was really wanting to make music that felt like I could fit into a bigger sense of the music industry rather than the tiny kind of little micro world that I’ve created within mxmtoon.” Growing up online and spending the second half of her teens in front of the camera meant Maia’s coming of age has been pretty well documented. Somewhere in those years, she stopped singing about her high school experiences and teenage emotions, and started looking outwards, resulting in a more mature direction lyrically on ‘dawn’ and upcoming sister EP ‘dusk’. Despite only just hitting the big two-oh, she’s a self-proclaimed internet mum, and tracks on ‘dawn’, like ‘fever dream’ and ‘lessons’ speak directly to both Maia’s younger self and her (very slightly) younger listeners. “A lot of times when I speak to my audience, I feel like I’m just saying the things I really wish I could have heard when I was just their age, which is only a couple years younger, like, I’m a baby if I’m being honest, I’ve barely
experienced anything. But I think I have matured a lot within the last year, I’m just taking a lot of time to think, and being in therapy and writing a lot more music and all these sorts of things. “When I write songs, or give advice, or just talk generally, I think that my audience and I are so similar in the way that we experience life and view the world and think about things and the stuff that we worry about that when I try to comfort them or try to provide lyrics that feel like they can be there for them, it follows the lines of what I wish I could have heard when I was 16 or 17.” Maia’s upbringing in the Californian Bay Area played a big part in her comfort in expressing herself honestly and authentically in her music. Oakland is a pretty diverse city, so, unlike how she might feel on a playlist, she wasn’t out of place. “I grew up around people who looked like me and different kinds of people too, to hear different stories and understand more about the world. So I don’t know,
I guess like, the best way to put it is that it felt varied. It felt like my own experience was different, but also similar enough to the people around me that, as a mixedrace person and somebody who eventually came out to be bisexual too like, it was just nice to be able to feel like I wasn’t out of place in an area of the world. I feel very thankful because having a city that didn’t make me feel alienated for who I was lent itself to me feeling comfortable enough to make art about who I was.” She spent most of her childhood learning to play instruments and doing sports she says she didn’t really want to do. She started playing the violin at six years old, and later learned to play the trumpet, cello, piano and guitar (phew), before turning to the ukulele, which led to arguably the most low-key rebellious phase any musician has had. “I had a lot of structured music time where I was just learning how to formally practice and play sheet music or play chords. But I started writing music when I
learned how to play the ukulele when I was twelve, and I think that the ukulele was something that I naturally really gravitated towards after having so many years of classical training, because classical music is all about rules, you have to follow exactly what the sheet music says. You know, if you do it wrong, it sounds bad because it’s not how it’s supposed to be played. But with ukulele, there are four chords. You can play it as badly as you want to. There are no rules. I think that I really loved songwriting because it was the epitome of what everything that cello and classical music was not, so I really enjoyed it just because it felt like it was something that I’d never done before.” Lots of those classical instruments she learned as a
child weave their way back in on her latest material, especially on the ‘dusk’ EP due out in October, which she promises is a little darker. “If you’re familiar with Pokemon at all, they always release these two versions of the same game, essentially, where it’s like Sun and Moon, they literally have one of those. So it’s like mxmtoon takes Pokémon edition where she does dawn and dusk.” While she wrote lead single ‘bon iver’ back in March, most of the EP has been written in quarantine, and getting back to writing solo after working with other writers on ‘dawn’ proved a little tough. “It was so odd to be back sitting on my couch trying to think within my own brain being like ‘I can’t believe I have to come up with songs in order to have music’, it was so stressful.” Lyrically, she says this is the one where she’s spent months thinking about her existential crisis (doubt she’s alone in that), but there’s positivity in there too. If ‘dawn’ was centred around the idea that the sun always rises the next day, ‘dusk’ is about how a day doesn’t only begin when the sun rises. She says, “You have control over whenever you want to start your experiences or decide when you want to live life or start something. It doesn’t have to be defined by when something feels right. It doesn’t need to be pressured upon you or placed upon you to feel like you need to begin something just because the world says you do. ‘dusk’ is about taking your time but also knowing that any time is the right time, like it’s just up to you. Its self determined. There’s no rush for anything but it also it doesn’t mean that you need to wait for a moment either.” She echoed those sentiments when asked if there’s anything she’d tell her 16-year-old self who was just starting out posting YouTube videos, as well as telling herself not to try so hard to fit in – “it’s just such a waste of time to constantly try and be something that you’re not, and being authentic is so much more rewarding. I think it’s easier in the long term for a lot of us if we just express who we are naturally without having to stress so much about it.” Growing up as a child of the internet and rising to fame online, Maia has a pretty strong connection to her audience. She interacts with them daily online, sharing memes of herself, hyping up fans selfies, and sharing the most candid
“With stan culture, I think sometimes the artist can be held so high up that they just become no longer a person” mxmtoon parts of her conscious, and while there are certain parts of her life she keeps private (her surname remains unknown, for example), she’s got a lot of love for her stans. “I’m so thankful for the people that spend the time like drawing me or supporting my music and sharing it with other people because I literally wouldn’t have my job without them. The only downside is when it can get just a little bit too intense. You know, you never want to hold somebody on a pedestal and feel like they’re untouchable or anything like that. “With me, at least within my own platform, I try to remind people I’m just a peer. I’m not someone who is above you, I’m not below you. We’re just people at the same level trying to experience life and understand it as we go through it. And so with stan culture, I think sometimes the artist can be held so high up that they just become no longer a person. And I think with me, I would hate that. I just want to hopefully be viewed as an individual as much as I possibly can and know that I’m flawed and human just as much as the next person.” She’s been there, though. She says if she hadn’t channelled her energy into an artist project, she’d definitely be running a K-Pop stan account now. “I was like, I should probably utilise my time working on promoting my own music instead of just feeding into these seven people,
but you know, I will work on music and still stan BTS for the time being.” And the stan still slips out occasionally on her Twitter now. Maia’s obviously grown up a lot since she first started uploading, but she often looks to her past in her music videos. ‘almost home’ recounts her mother’s comforting words while children look to the sky and play pretend in their houses, and in ‘fever dream’, she’s joined by both a younger and older version of herself, fans in the comments gushing over how she looks like a Disney princess, and that the song makes them feel like they’re the protagonist of a coming of age movie. They’re definitely onto something. Maia’s music certainly has the gazingwistfully-out-of-the-carwindow vibe, so it’s no surprise she’s a big fan of classic romcoms and Netflix specials. “I love To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and I also really enjoyed The Kissing Booth, whatever the crappy ones are. “But there’s one that I recently watched called The Half of It, and it’s about this queer, Asian-American high schooler who is navigating her own emotions, and I was just watching it with my mom. I love them to death because I think it’s so emblematic of my own experience, but I was listening to the score and looking at the themes in the movie, and I was like, this is my dream movie. If I could be involved in any project, it would be this one, where there’s so much intersectionality with the themes and exactly what I hope to express within my own artist project.” Netflix that’s an official callout, BTW. When it comes to what’s coming up in the immediate and actual future, Maia is looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing all of her fans face to face instead of screen to screen. She hasn’t been able to come to the UK or do her US show run, and she’s missed out on touring Asia with Lauv, which is obviously a big sad face. “I would just love to be able to connect with a lot of the people that I love and listen to my music and be able to play them songs because I know that we all mutually really miss that.” Unfortunately, it’s back to bedroom releases for now. (And TikTok. Definitely back to TikTok.) P mxmtoon’s new
EP ‘dusk’ is out 1st October.
Tate McRae FU TU R E M EG A
STA R !
Talent shows, touring the world and going viral with a song she knocked together in less time than it takes to make a decent lunch, Tate McRae is heading for the top. By: Aleksandra Brzezicka.
magine that you started dancing as a kid, and were so ace that years later, you've made a name for yourself and travelled the world. Instead of playing in school talent shows, you've performed on the stage of one the biggest TV reality shows in the US. After accomplishing it all, you put online a song that you've whipped up in 20 minutes and, overnight, it goes viral. Meet 17-year-old Tate McRae, a Canadian dancer turned pop sensation who twirled her way to international stardom, working twice as hard as her older co-workers, and with even more to say. Tate has been in the making for a while, and now she's ready to rocket through the charts. "I can say it a million times, I was speechless when my manager texted. Craziest thing ever. I wouldn't expect that in a million years," says an over the moon Tate when we catch up in between recording sessions for some top-secret new tunes. She's
just received a VMA Push Best Artist Nomination, and it's no wonder she's excited; not everyone has what it takes to land space on the nominee list next to Doja Cat and Yungblud, with a determination to take it all the way. Tate McRae first kicked off in 2016 when she became first Canadian finalist on American talent show, So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation. "My mum was a dancer her whole life and then she was my dance teacher, so I got into dance when I was about six, and then starting competing more intensively when I was eight," she says. Winning the Best Female Dancer award twice and storming world stages on tour with Justin Bieber, she shook US audiences and stole their hearts with her authentic charm. Already thriving in the music industry, she had the need to channel some of that overflowing talent to a different kind of dish. "I've always been a fan of poetry and writing
in school. Like, always. I started a YouTube channel about three and a bit years ago, and I released one song one day. It was just 'I wrote a song', and it was this random thing I whipped off in like 20 minutes. It started to gain some attraction and people were sticking around for some music and for me to write original songs. I've just kept realising them every single week on Fridays, and then I've started to build more of a fanbase and singing," Tate reflects. Asked for those responsible for shaping her taste and artists that she looks up to, Tate namedrops some of the biggest pop stars. "I've got so many musical influences. I'm a huge fan of Post Malone, The Weekend, Dua Lipa, Jessie Reyez and Jeremy Zucker. There are so many that I listen to every single day, and one of them is always a
"I've performed on some big stages with massive audiences" Tate McRae
favourite. I've got a new favourite each day, but they're all amazing. Very, very good writers." A few years, a record deal and 13 million listeners (and counting) later, Tate still seems to be shocked by her early success. "Oh my gosh, you know, it's weird because my parents didn't even like the song. I didn't like the song. I mean, I did like the song, obviously. I've released it. It was just a very big action, the whole situation, until we saw views starting to slowly go up like overnight and then we started getting contacted by labels. To get recognition of the video that you've never really expected to put out on the first place is a weird feeling," she says. Today Tate's repertoire bursts with emotional, sad bangers full of heartwrenching, sharp vocals, and gripping lyrics, like on 'you broke me first' or 'all the things i never said'. Though the media instantly boxed her as a bedroom pop idol, Tate doesn't find the label fit. "I feel like it's hard to describe a style. I feel like for every artist, it's hard to know like 'this is what I do exactly' because every artist wants to constantly be experimenting especially if they are writing their own music. I would
say that I'm pop alternative but like, super focused on the lyrics. No matter what. I don't go into a session thinking: I wanna write a pop song. It's like: I wanna write a new story today; I wanna bring that to life," she explains. Tate keeps her eyes open while on the hunt for stories. Leading the life of an adolescence pop idol alone delivers a fair share of material-worth kicks, and her going through typical teenage turbulences adds to the explosive mix. "So many things inspire my writing: my real life, my teenage emotions, the friends that are around me, things that go on every single day and what I see on the news. I don't know, there are so many random things that would spark inspiration that you would never really know until you're just one day starting to write a song about it. I feel like every single day, something new can inspire you and even when the least expected." After getting a grasp of the inspiration, she normally escapes from the blitz and glitz of everyday situations to pin down that fleeing sounds and put them into a shape of a song. "Usually, I get a guitar or piano, and
then I start freestyling, and sort of honing melodies and then I kinda spit lyrics out. I just start typing in my notes like random lyrics and then whatever sticks with everyone in the room, it's what we're building off," she says on her writing process. Despite being a proud songwriter, Tate does appreciate help and critiques of other professionals, especially when she rates their work so much. "When you're walking into a room, it's like seeing a whole other perspective on life when they start talking what they think of situations. At 17 years old I've got my ways and my opinions, but it's really cool to hear everyone else's and be able to spare my brain a little bit and then see it from another point of view." While reaching out to work with fellow creatives is nothing unusual, having Billie Eilish (!!!) and her brother Finneas co-write a track for you is pretty special. 'tear myself apart' shot Tate's career into the next orbit. "I got the song from my label, and I got to go to her show and Finneas' like a week before," she says. "I got to meet her and talk about the song. It was really cool because it was my first single under RCA Records. It was a cool learning experience to get in the booth, do things professionally and release my first song, which was written by Billie Eilish! That seems crazy." Her obvious spark led to the likes of Elle magazine touting her as "Canada's answer to Billie Eilish". It's mindblowing enough to work with someone you admire, but being perceived as an equally talented artist is on another level of ecstatic. "I'm a big fan of Billie, I think that she's amazing and same for her brother. Their music is incredible. For Elle to say that and I don't know, even just put me in that category... I don't even know. That was crazy. I didn't expect that at all, and I'm very honoured," Tate admits, and mentions another fan-to-fan collaboration with Audrey Mika on SAYGRACE's badass banger 'Boys Ain't Shit'. "I'd heard the song on TikTok, and then SAYGRACE asked if Audrey and I could feature on it. Both of us were like, 'hell yeah!'. So fun. It's such a great message and song.
We got into the studio with Grace. I recorded my verse, and we all met. It was a very fun and super cool process and then filming the music video was really cool. I loved it," says Tate. If that production was cool, her video for 'vicious' is beyond awesome. In the all-animated clip, she's jumping on buildings like a lightning-fuelled Spiderman; a superhero you wouldn't want to mess with. Just like her alter ago, Tate can do just about anything, especially when she's got someone like Lil Mosey in her corner. "He's a really cool kid, and we got along really well. He was super comfortable with the song, although because there's a pandemic going on, we couldn't really get in the studio together. But, we facetimed a whole bunch to talk about things." During her lockdown days, Tate has been her usual busy-bee self: playing online gigs and festivals, posting ridiculously good dance videos and getting ready to serve up another portion of her almost-baked new material. "I've got this one room where I record all my music and get a lot of work done, so surprisingly through the whole course of quarantine, I've been getting so much work done and recording some of my songs. I'm writing a lot of songs over Zoom in sessions. It's crazy 'cause I'm like all the way in Canada, and all the writers are in LA and New York. It's been pretty great actually. I've been just putting my head down, sitting in my room and getting a lot of stuff done," she says, remarking that if she only could, she'd gladly swap her lil recording studio for a summery Australian stage. At least for a weekend. For now, Tate's happy with her newest single, 'don't be sad', being out. She shares how it was different from her previous tracks: "It's actually crazy because this is [song] from one of the first sessions I ever was in and I wrote this with two of my favourite writers. The writing process was just so cool, I love these guys, and they're very open people. You don't ever really feel trapped, not say whatever you want to feel and it's just totally different. It's not a love song. It's tackling my mental health at the time, how I was feeling
"Dancing is really stressful. If you slip up, one mistake, you're done!" Tate McRae inside and I'm really stoked." Tate takes her mission as a songwriter seriously. Rather than giving her fans straightforward directions, she gifts them with total freedom when interpreting her songs so they can see a reflection of themselves in her art. "I feel like each song tells a totally different message; it depends on the song, and depends on how people wanna take it. I don't want people to feel like they're closed off to the only thing that they can think a song is about. I want them to be able to interpret it into anything and feel like it could be their own thing that can help them through whatever they need to get through," she says and reveals that some of her musical mirrors are double-sided. "I really love 'you broke me first' just because I feel like that's a timeless song for me. I feel like I can really relate to it myself, no matter point in my life I'm at," Tate shares. Though Tate's sneakattack on the UK charts has only just begun, her army of loyal fans has crowned her a Gen Z queen; she took over the internet a while ago. "It's amazing. I mean, for an artist to hear that people are connecting with your songs and bringing them back to their own lives, is one of the best feelings ever. That's all you want to do in writing. To be able to give it to someone else and feel like that can be theirs, and that makes them feel so personal to them as well. That's the coolest thing ever. As a teenager myself, I'm young, and I feel like going through a lot of the same things that a lot of people are at my age. It's
cool if they can relate back to me and are able to talk about it." If there is one thing Tate seems to despise it's putting people in tiny metaphorical boxes with no spaces to grow. Living her beyondlimitations life, she doesn't care for definitions. If you love something it, you should do it, seems to be her motto. "I don't like putting labels on it. I've been a dancer my whole life. It's such a big part of me, but singing is something I'm really passionate about, and I feel like there's definitely a lane where you can do whatever you want with it. There's so much freedom in singing, and then I can bring my dancing into it. But I would never say that I'm one more than the other." Though Tate's childhood looked more like Hannah Montana's than most, she wouldn't exchange it for a world. There aren't many 17-year-olds with 10 years of work experience. "As a dancer, I've performed on some big stages with massive audiences, and I feel like it preps you a lot because dancing is really stressful. If you slip up, one mistake, you're done! It's only you on stage in front of everyone. A feeling of singing is a totally different feeling because obviously, it's your voice, not your body, but I feel like it definitely prepped me because a lot of nerves were taken away when I was like nine." Dance would always be a part of who she is, but it's singing that gave her voice to express the emotions stuffed deep inside and let her discover different creative paths. "I always say this, but I feel like it's way easier for songwriters to talk about their feelings through songs than in real life. And that's especially true for me. I never know how to put things in words, and I can't even argue with people because I can't wrap my head around the situation and form a very strong opinion. Until I go a write about it, and then I have it. Everything is clear once I write a song about it." Tate McRae's star is on the rise, and if anything can be clear this year, it's that you will hear her name again. Very soon. We can't spill much tea, but there's plenty to come, and you should be dying to get a taste. P readdork.com 57.
D O U B LE TR O U B LE
Driver Era The Driver Era have been bubbling away with their eclectic rock leanings for a little while now, and it's about to hit fever-pitch.
By: Jessica Goodman. Photography: M.K. Sadler.
THE DRIVER ERA
ou know what?" Ross Lynch questions. "I feel like our main existence within the music industry has been touring, actually," he contemplates. "We've always been road warriors."
It's been over a year since they last played a live show in front of an audience, and – like the rest of us – Ross and Rocky Lynch are missing the sense of escape and connection that concerts can provide. "Always stoked to see familiar faces in the crowd, and all the fans that follow us around on tour," the pair enthuse. "Always stoked for all those stories and new places that we get to go see." They're tied to one place for the time being, but The Driver Era refuse to let anything slow them down. "We've been really trying to activate The Driver Era since I got back from Vancouver," Ross details. The sun is shining in LA, and as they drive down the road from their house for better phone signal, the brothers are in contagiously high spirits. "These last two years we've been splitting up our time – or I've been splitting up my time – favouring acting," Ross explains. "I was doing this show called The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina" [Never heard of it – Ed] - "It took up a lot of time, and it sort of slowed our production on the music side of things. So upon me getting home and the show getting cancelled, we really wanted to take the initiative and the time to initiate The Driver Era." So that's exactly what they've been doing, with a shift in focus from a world of spell-casting on camera to working together to craft magic with melodies on record. Sadly, their initial plans for this year – namely a world tour – have had to be put on hold due to the current global pandemic. Instead, the brothers are immersing themselves in their creativity and the constant pursuit of creating something fresh, new, and exciting. The result? A steady stream of singles with no sign of stopping any time soon. "Normally Ross comes back from Sabrina, and we'll be trying to finish an album, and rehearse, and tour, all within a couple of weeks," Rocky describes. What the
future holds might seem more uncertain than ever right now, but the duo are determined that their future will be one of their own making. "It's allowed us to not rush," he continues, "to have the songs exist how they are." And there are plenty of songs: this year alone has seen The Driver Era release an EP of remixes, the appropriately-sociallydistanced-entitled 'OMG Plz Don't Come Around' and its flipside 'Flashdrive', yearning single 'Take Me Away', and spirited summer bop 'Places'. As the brothers energetically discuss what their next single might be, it quickly becomes apparent that what we've heard so far is just a drop in the ocean. "There's R&B songs, there's rock songs, there's pop songs, there's hip hop songs," Ross enthuses. "You can even say there's folk songs coming." If there's anything The Driver Era have been consistent in, it's their inability to be pinned down to one genre. It's something the duo pride themselves on, writing music that feels fresh and exciting for them to create – whatever stylistic direction that takes them in. "I think it's a thing that you see more with newer artists," Rocky contemplates. "They're not necessarily like, 'oh, let me go and make this country album or this rap album', but 'oh, I
like the feeling and sound of this'." Concerned only with writing what feels right to them, The Driver Era have established a reputation for songs that feel just as classic as they do exhilarating and new. "It's a more natural way of creating because then you're not giving yourself restrictions," Ross agrees. "Sometimes restrictions are good," he counters. "Sometimes, restrictions help the creative process." He pauses, thinking over his words. "But sometimes it's nice to not have any too." "I'm making music, and this is what it sounds like," Rocky summarises with a shrug. And it's as simple as that. Letting their instincts guide them, the songs they write might take the form of polished soundscapes, but the emotions that fuel them are as raw and real as they come. Balancing between escapism and introspection, The Driver Era pride themselves on, above all things, making music with feeling. "I think that's probably the number one thing, actually," Rocky asserts. "I think that's the main thing, whether you know it or not, you as a listener react to: the most honest form," he expresses. "This song came out of me. I made it." It's a sentiment his brother is quick to agree with. "It wasn't crafted for
commercial reasons," Ross states. "Yeah," Rocky agrees, "it's straight-up like 'this was a situation of mine, and here it is,'" he offers. "I definitely think that's what most people respond to." The brothers' candid approach to songwriting has never been more apparent than with their recent releases. Latest single 'Places' saw them take their emotions to brand new heights. Written about "finding new territory and new emotions and not necessarily knowing how to navigate them" in a relationship, the song showcases The Driver Era at their most candid. "A lot of times I'll write a song about a situation or relationship or a girl after the fact," Rocky describes. "Maybe I won't see that person ever again," he shrugs. "This was a situation where I was driving in my car
"There's no other person I want to do this with" Ross Lynch
to go see this girl, playing the song and driving through the neighbourhood and writing it as I'm experiencing these things." This honesty in their lyrics is something the duo consider crucial, not only to their creativity, but to who they are as a band. 'Take Me Away', released earlier this summer, saw them at perhaps their most quintessentially themselves, reflecting on how quickly life can pass you by. "I think, recently, the overall message of The Driver Era is to appreciate the preciousness of life," Ross describes. "Too fast, it's always going too fast," Rocky agrees. "It's so precious" Ross emphasises. "There's so many wonderful things about everyone's individual experience," he enthuses. "We really want to encourage more love into the world. We want to add to the light in the world." How do they go about doing that? By making music they enjoy making, with the simple hope that you might enjoy hearing it too. "There's something that's liberating," Rocky expresses. "It feels good that the songs we've released have truth in them. There's lyrics said in some of our songs, and you're not necessarily stating these things in your daily conversations. It almost feels like you're letting some weight off your shoulders." The passion the brothers have for their craft, the value they place on it, and the sheer enjoyment they get out of it is inescapably contagious. As they continue to talk, it's not just their shared passion for their creativity that makes itself instantly known, but their bond with each other. "Honestly, I think what makes The Driver Era..." Ross starts, turning to his brother when he loses his sense of conversational direction. "What's the word I'm looking for?" "Cohesive," Rocky offers without missing a beat, a knee-jerk reaction more than an actual suggestion. "Cohesive!" Ross exclaims. He bids his sibling a "thank you," and continues on his train of thought, while Rocky utters a soft "wow" at having somehow tuned into his brother's wavelength. "I think what makes The Driver Era cohesive," Ross portrays, "is us." That's what it's always been about for them: two
THE DRIVER ERA
"We could release a 30-song album right now" Rocky Lynch
brothers working together to create something that comes from the heart. "When it comes to making music together, I definitely, definitely think our preference on style and what we're down to listen to is very similar," Rocky portrays. "So usually we like each other's ideas," he laughs. "Let me put it this way," Ross interjects. "There's no other person I want to do this with." It's a bond that could only be formed by growing up together, by learning to play instruments together, by playing their first shows and signing their first record deal together. "There's no doubt there's probably going to be times where we're working with other people at certain points in our lives," Ross states, "but as far as the majority of my time spent in the music industry goes? I would like to be with Rocky." It is as it always has been: since their early days in R5 with their brother Riker, sister Rydel, and close friend
Ellington Ratliff – or even before then – creativity has always been a part of Ross and Rocky's relationship with each other. "We were always around music growing up," Ross recalls. "When we decided to actually pick up the guitar, there was this Fall Out Boy DVD that Riker, our oldest brother, fell in love with." The recording of the iconic emo band Live In Phoenix was what inspired the siblings to first turn to music as a creative endeavour. Signing their first record deal when Ross and Rocky were only 15 and 16 respectively, the pair spent a lot of their formative years working in music, both in the studio and on the road. "We learned all sorts of lessons about ourselves and about life and all sorts of things," Ross expresses. "We learned a lot about the music industry in general," Rocky specifies. "Yeah, and how we wanted to navigate it," Ross agrees. While they reflect on that time
with fondness, it's clear that The Driver Era is the creative form they were always certain to find. "Honestly, when it came down to it, we just wanted to be more involved in our own art," Ross explains of their decision to strike out on their own. "We can be way richer," Rocky deadpans, not missing a beat. "We could be hugely rich!" Ross exclaims, laughing. They scheme about ways to get rich quick, but it's a love of creativity and expression that drives them, as it always has been, and it seems like this is how it was always destined to be. "We were working with this writer/ producer combo – Emanuel Kiriakou and Evan Bogart – who did our first record as R5," Ross recalls. "They looked at me, and they said something like, 'you're gonna do an alternative record one day, huh?'" he chuckles. "We were in the studio, and they were like, 'oh, this isn't for you for very long.'"
Like a phoenix from the ashes, The Driver Era was the natural next step in Ross and Rocky's musical evolution. "We like making music," Rocky states. "That honestly is why we ended up getting to this point. We enjoy writing and making music, and making video. We like creating." R5 might be a thing of the past, but the energy that comes from working creatively with family is very much a part of who The Driver Era are today – albeit in a different way. "Everything on the creative side of The Driver Era is all in-house now," Rocky states, "music, music production, recording, engineering, visuals, directing, merch... It's all one big team, and it makes it feel very cohesive." They might collaborate with the same family members on videos and merchandise, but The Driver Era have always been set to carve out their own path. "In our early days as R5 we were always on the road, always touring," Ross recalls. "And we didn't actually release a lot of music," he laughs. "We were more of a live band." Live shows – in the traditional sense – are off the table for now, but the duo refuse to let that hold them back. "It's nice to actually get some extra time to be doing the groundwork before the touring happens," Ross expresses. "I think – specifically me, I'm sure Ross as well – we tend to enjoy things a lot more when we don't do them as often," Rocky agrees. It's undoubtedly a positive, given the current climate we're in. "When the enjoyment and the enthusiasm and the fun and the love and that energy exists," he enthuses "specifically in the studio," he clarifies, "then you're making really good music." It seems there's some truth in the old saying after all: absence really can make the heart grow
fonder. "The time away really does create that spark." "There is something special to purposefully going cool, not thinking about music for however long you choose - even if it's a day or two," Rocky expresses. "Then you allow it to just overwhelm you and usually you're like, 'oh, this is amazing'," he grins. "That's always a nice feeling." With an aim of "one [single] a month," the band's plans to hit the road might be in limbo, but The Driver Era are well and truly in their stride. "We feel like we've been just a little bit behind of where we want to be," Ross admits, "just because of acting schedules and things like that." Getting back up to speed one song at a time might not have been how they planned to see in this decade, but the Lynch brothers are making the most of every opportunity they have – bringing older ideas to fruition and letting new seeds of inspiration take root. "We're always wanting to create something that doesn't exist yet on our hard drive or in our minds," Rocky enthuses. "We could release a 30-song album right now," he teases, "but the problem is in the process of making this album – because we're in our house, we make our own schedules – we'd quickly just keep wanting that fresh, new idea." Admitting "we're suckers for the new song, we really are," Ross and Rocky are already immersed in what comes next. Predicting 'Number One Fan' as their next single ("it's actually really, really good," Ross laughs) and enthusing about behind the scenes videos, video blogs, acoustic renditions of songs, livestreams, and more besides, what we've seen so far is just the start of what the band have to offer. "In a perfect world, there's maybe ten different experiences that somebody can have with The Driver Era that month," Rocky enthuses, "video, music, whatever, whatever we feel like doing," he lists. "We're just going to keep cranking away and keep creating," Ross agrees. Whatever lies on the horizon might not be what we hoped for when this year started, but with The Driver Era at the wheel you know one thing for sure: the soundtrack is sure to be spectacular. "It's such a special place to be." P
OUT OF THIS WORLD!
By: Jamie MacMillan. Photography: Anthony Pham.
With debut album 'Nothing Happens' behind them, Braeden, Cole and Dylan haven't be sitting about twiddling their thumbs...
FOUR-TWENTY!?" Safe to say that Wallows approve of where they sit in Spotify's 'Most Listened To' placings. "I hope we never move up at this point. Or down. I just wanna stay right here," grins Dylan Minnette, frontman of one of the most exciting bands on the whole goddamn planet right now.
Out of the smoke from the apocalyptic car-crash that is 2020, we are seeing a whole new cast of heroes emerge. Amongst them, the Los Angeles trio who have already shaken our world once with their fizzy-pop-shaken-to-perfection debut and look to be ones to rock it further in 2021 and beyond. Ridiculously excited about a new band, us? You know it. Having managed the neat trick of seeming to burst out of nowhere while still feeling like you'd known them for ages (helped in part initially, let's be honest, by Dylan's ubiquity as the star of 13 Reasons Why, one of Netflix' biggies), Wallows only started releasing music in 2017. With the arrival of 'Nothing Happens' last year, and the uber-banging, Clairofeaturing, keep-it-on-your-playlistforever-ing 'Are You Bored Yet?', the doors to our hearts were well and truly kicked in. Nothing happens? Far from it. That first record has it all happening. Songs to dance to, check. Moments to chuck an over-priced tin of Red Stripe high into the air and bounce off your mates in the pit, definitely check. Moments of real emotion and vulnerability rubbing shoulders with anthems about turning the page from teenage life into all of the excitement and nervousness that follows, it's all here and delivered with a classic 2020 magpie approach. Every element of modern pop music poured into one delicious pot, it was all set for Wallows. Bring on the festivals, the big stages, the global realisation of what a few of us had
"There are definitely cockroaches in my real house at this point, but I have a fivestar island and all the best villagers" Cole Preston already noticed. And then everything stopped with a big fat COVID-19sized full stop. Chatting to the band via phone, it's glamour personified. For them anyway, the band dialling in from a presumably air-conditioned LA setting. Not for Dork's intrepid writer, sitting as he is in a decidedly un-air-conditioned van in an Esso garage forecourt amongst the boy racers and rabid post-lockdown McDonald's devourers. Fear not, we soon bring the band down to our level though. "What did I do during lockdown? I shredded through Animal Crossing," admits drummer Cole Preston. "Like there was no tomorrow. I mean, I played it for a month non-stop. So there are definitely cockroaches in my real house at this point, but I have a five-star island and all the best villagers. I was going on allreaddork.com 63.
night forums and chatting to strangers, making trades." The band dissolve into giggles, not for the only time. Like any group of friends who have known each other for so long (they have been playing together since they were eleven, Braeden and Dylan meeting as child actors when they were eight), there is almost a short-hand to their conversation. Dylan takes the lead through most of our interview, Cole and vocalist/ guitarist Braeden Lemasters chipping in regularly, but all the while it is clear that they are just living their best lives as mates in a band. "We managed to stay pretty productive during this time luckily," continues Dylan eventually. "Like, as soon as we figured out that 'some', and then 'most' and then 'all' shows were going to be cancelled, we knew that we wanted to make the best use of the time as was possible and make as much music as we can." So far, post-'Nothing Happens', we've had two little teasers of what comes next - the most recent of which was their cover of The Beatles' 'With A Little Help From My Friends', a charity single in aid of Feeding America. But before that, 'OK' arrived in March, with a spookily prescient sense of timing with its chorus message of "Can we get up and try to feel okay again?" taking on new meaning in a world that was desperate for a reason, any reason, to get up and feel okay. "We didn't realise at the time," admits Dylan. "We always had it planned to come out on the day it did, but then it really started to make its mark in America. We had debated delaying it for a second, but we realised that people are gonna want new music anyway during these times because they will be worrying about things. I guess it sort of took on a new meaning and became a really prominent thing." He undercuts a serious point with a joke, not for the only time. "I don't know, people were bored of making Tiktoks I guess and started looking at it instead," he laughs. Amongst all the lockdown anthem hype, 'OK' also shows another subtle, yet definite, shift towards the pop world. It zips and glides,
its polished production and heartening message making for the very definition of A Proper Bop. All in all, it is a long way from those early lofi Strokes-y singles that first made us prick up our ears. A natural result of growing up and the next step in the band's evolution? In certain respects, Dylan agrees. "With some of the songs on 'Nothing Happens' now, I'm like, I don't know if I like this now or if we're too old, or we would probably never make it now or whatever," he boldly declares of a record that only came out just over a year ago. But it's this restless searching for the next thing, and ability to find it, that always gets Dork's spideysenses tingling. "'Are You Bored Yet?' though, I've always really liked that song, it's probably the main one that I listen to now and go 'yeah, I think we'd make that song right now'," he continues, much to our sense of relief. "I think it is a song
that still feels relevant to us and what we are interested in, and what we're making. Maybe not lyrically, the narrative of that song isn't relevant to me any more, but the song is." Hard to believe now but it almost wasn't a single at all, let alone the worldtrampling monster that it became - the band's label had to get involved, pushing hard for it in one of those sliding doors moments. "I didn't think it was a single, it didn't make sense to me,"
"This feels like a clean slate, in a good way" Braeden Lemasters
is how Dylan remembers it today, Cole pointing out that "Dylan just thought it was a 'good' song." "Ha, I was like 'whatever, man' when it came to record it," he agrees. "I liked something about it, but I just had to trust the process with the label." "It just revealed itself to be very different as time went on," adds Braeden. "I think different of it now when we play it live, or you hear it in the car, just knowing how it caught on. It changes the way you hear it in a cool way!" Happy to admit that the label were right (166 million plays on Spotify would kinda back that too), Dylan calls it their 'underdog song'. More like the one that nearly got away. But the whole process taught them not to over-think things, with their own favoured track getting a lukewarm response. "Our manager walked in while we were playing 'Sidelines' on an acoustic and was like 'what is that?' I mean,
that's a bad sign," he laughs. (The #justiceforsidelines campaign starts here btw.) "That song could have been a super over-compressed, super-loud, super-this, super-that, synthy Tame Impala rip-off really," is Braeden's verdict, never quite getting off the fence, "but then it went from the single we thought it could be to more like this chill alternative song." It's fascinating to hear a band speak this openly about the whole process, pulling the curtain back on how singles are born and why some fly where others fall. There's an alarming moment when Dylan almost begins to choke while discussing Kings of Leon's most-hated hit (by the band) 'Sex On Fire', which brings alarming flashbacks of the infamous and unsavoury Bad Pigeon Incident of 2010 (our advice, don't Google it). "I feel like now I've learned not to think about writing songs that make me go 'ooh, this is gonna be a smash'," finishes Dylan simply after he recovers. "I think more now about just making the best songs we have, and if they happen to be really catchy, then that's something we like. Let the world find what they find." Talk turns, naturally, to new music. Dork, being the super sleuths that we are, noticed a tweet from the band the day before our interview saying 'some new music is almost done'. So, from that, we can almost certainly presume that new music is almost done - something the band are happy to confirm. What the 'project' (as they describe it) is, remains to be seen, but we are told a few things. Distinctly not about lockdown, "There's gonna be plenty of people who reference quarantine, that'd be so obvious, so we tried to avoid it" states Dylan, in one hell of a pre-emptive burn to blink-182. It was however recorded nearly entirely in isolation, with notes and files shared around over the phone, the songs slowly built over time in a fashion that Braeden describes as 'like a game of ping pong'. It, frankly, sounds fascinating. "They say you put your whole life on the first album," he begins, "so this now feels like a clean slate, in a good way. Our writing
This time last year, we interrogated Wallows in what we like to call 'the legendary Any Other Questionsâ&#x20AC;Ś feature'. Surprised by just how vociferous they were about believing in aliens, we finally managed to ask a follow-up. And we are very, very glad we did, tbh. Last time we spoke, you were chatting about your belief in aliens. Any news on that front, any encounters? Dylan: I personally believe if you don't believe in aliens, it's a very selfish view to think that we're the only creatures in the universe. Braeden: It's crazy. Have you seen all the stuff that's being published right now from the Pentagon? Like they have announced that there are UFOs and there is footage of them. I read this New York Times article where the Head of Defence was saying that there have definitely been aircraft that have crashed on this planet that are not man-made or identified as being man-made. Like, they don't know how it was made, and there are definitely things that exist like that. And you're just like, that is insane, and no-one cares! Nobody's talking about it! And the Pentagon's like, by the way, everyone we are just gonna slide this in there and no-ones gonna care. But it's crazy, and then it also means like, if it's not aliens, then it could be crazy technology that another country has so that's also concerning. It's like a really crazy thing that spacecraft have landed here that nobody knows what it is and how it was made. This could be the season finale that 2020 deserves. Braeden: If this is a simulation, this video game is gonna have a crazy ending. Dylan: A virtual ball drops on our laptops. It's New Year's Eve 2020, then all of a sudden an alien takes over the screen and is like 'Earth, you are now ours!'. You'd be like *screams*. Braeden: As long as the Big One doesn't happen, an earthquake, and as long as an asteroid doesn't hit, 2020 is just definitely crazy. Dylan: I'm just prepared for anything at this point. Braeden: Murphy's Law, man. Anything that can happen will happen.
"How big do we want to be? Well, as big as possible!" Dylan Minnette has definitely changed since 'Nothing Happens' for sure, and it will probably all change again after it has been recorded." There are hushed whispers amongst the band as they discuss what can, and can't be revealed. No spoilers here, we promise. Cole carefully picks up the details. "We did it almost entirely in our individual homes, bouncing files to each other. 90% of the vocals are just Dylan and Braeden singing into their iPhones, then I'd have to copy the takes. Which is insane and hilarious, but you would never be able to tell because iPhone vocals sound great!" In every way, it couldn't be more bedroom pop in the way it's been recorded, rather than the traditional 'band-in-a-studio' style. This time around, each of them took turns developing and following individual ideas through before sending them to the other band-members,
a style that the band describe as liberating. "It's like how someone like Kevin Parker works, he doesn't stop and overthink stuff," continues the drummer. "I'm glad that it would start with one of us having an idea, and then it goes from me to them, each of us individually just working on it. I think it sort of helps shape the songs away from being overthought." Classic Wallows in sound but with "more of a pop production" is how Braeden describes it, the new songs becoming a hybrid of both new and old. One track, in particular, is described as "like if The Velvet Underground made a pop
song but did it psychedelic". They drop in a few more crumbs of detail, but like we said, no spoilers sorry. Trust us when we say that everything sounds awesome and you can sign us up right now. The band's conversation flows even further ahead, with discussion about tracks that haven't made it on to the 'project'. Dylan reveals that his favourite ever Wallows track has been kept back, signs of a definite long-game being played by a band with more than one eye on the future. And this is a group showing all the signs of having a glittering future. "How big do we want to be? Well, as big as
possible!" says Dylan with barely a moment's thought. "We are super thankful and appreciative of how things are doing right now. If you had told me ten years ago what we are doing right now, it would be an absolute dream come true. It's insane." For Braeden, it is written in the moments that would seem easy for others to underestimate. "We played a show in London! I was mindblown, it's a crazy thing. I've always wanted to play Glastonbury, go to Australia, Asia, all these other places. Obviously, everybody in the world's plans got ripped up, but that is what I still want to do." When they get excited, which is often, they are still those eleven-year-old kids playing music with their mates. "I try to appreciate every moment to the best of my ability, because you never know when it could all just be gone, you know? So, I'm just soaking it all in," adds Dylan. "I always want to remember these days as the really good days, and if we do get bigger or whatever, we'll still appreciate these days just as much because we'll be like 'wow, remember when that felt like everything?' Even if people stop caring about us tomorrow, I would still just look at this as the best times ever." If anything is for certain in a year of uncertainties, it is that people are going to be caring about Wallows for a hell of a while yet. Our new favourite band? Hell yeah. P
Incoming. AL L THE NEW RELEASES YOU N E E D TO H E AR ( AN D SOM E YO U D E FI N I T E LY D O N 'T )
The ‘Details’ Release date: 4th September 2020 Label: Columbia Tracklisting: 1. You Better Believe!!! 2. Be an Astronaut 3. The Key to Life on Earth 4. Beautiful Faces 5. Daniel, You’re Still a Child 6. Emily 7. Twice Your Size 8. Rapture 9. Sagittarius A* 10. Eventually, Darling
T Declan McKenna Zeros
eeeee A brilliant second album from a indie's boy wonder.
here's a lot to be said for a jolly nice vibe. In a
world packed with aggression, negative emotions and a simmering contempt for the other side of quiteliterally-any debate, quite often modern life can feel quite a lot like being trapped in a pressure cooker full of bile and hatred. Most who try to tackle such a landscape do it in a way that has either the whiff of resignation or such violent aggression it only serves to heighten the already unbearable tension. But not our boy Dec. 'Zeros' isn't an album that lives outside of the real world
- far from it - but it's also one that shines so spectacularly it can't help but feel utterly fantastical. In the time between Declan McKenna's debut album, 'What Do You Think About The Car?', and now, indie's much-heralded boy wonder has blossomed in a way that few could have expected. No longer the youngest kid on the block, he may well still be the freshest of the lot. With a sprinkle of stardust, a glam swagger and an ear for a great hook, much of 'Zeros' sounds positively huge. 'The Key To Life On Earth' is a box-fresh classic, while 'Daniel, You're
Still A Child' is a winding, fascinating collection of ideas - and perhaps a bite back at the patronising attitudes towards the younger generation - wrapped up in a solid gold bop. The weirdo pop of 'Rapture', oddball but mirror-ball-brilliant, is timeless in its execution, as is the occasionally Strokesesque jangle of 'Sagittarius A' - a track so New York cool you can almost hear the still-lit cigarette held between its metaphorical bass strings. It's the majestic 'Eventually, Darling' that truly shines, though. Waltzing melody, bizarre hook line and save-the-last-dance shimmer
combine bombast and subtlety brilliantly. With big ideas to consider, there's no innercity tension or brooding menace to overwhelm Declan McKenna's second opus. Like his peers around him, he's out to change the world with positive actions, love and awareness. A star to rise those around him higher rather than drag them down into the mud, Dec remains the trailblazer for an indie scene that is casting aside its often toxic legacy and embracing a more inclusive, positive future. The boy's done good.
Dream Nails Dream Nails eeeef
Dream Nails aren't mucking about - bright, brash and brilliant, these London punks refuse to hold back. With a strong voice and an engaged positivity, 'Jillian' is a rambunctious rallying call, while 'Vagina Police', and the skit that proceeds it, is just one of a whole host of tracks that marry infectious energy with social and political smarts. Angular but melodic, like candy-floss laced with razor blades, no track hangs around longer than absolutely necessary, but the impact sticks more than long enough to inspire a second, third or fourth loop round. Carrying a torch of so many bands born of merch tables, photocopied zines and self-made pin badges before them, Dream Nails manage to still sound shiny and new. Loud and proud, in the best possible way. Stephen Ackroyd
Twitching back to life after three years away, Everything Everything return with a record that is surprisingly based on Pixar's main animation team. Kidding. It is 'of course' built largely on a dense psychological hypothesis known as bicameralism. So far, so perfectly Everything Everything, then. Even by Jonathan Higgs' normal standards, some of the lyrics teeter on the edge like a man who is a whisker away from being found raving at the world while sitting in a bath full of baked beans. But they contain stunning moments of beauty too. When the band slows down to take in the world around them on the beautiful 'In Birdsong', it is something close to transcendent. One decade in, and they're as fascinating as ever. Jamie MacMillan
Alex The Astronaut
The Theory of Absolutely Nothing eeeef When you've been brandished with the banner of being one of Australia's most powerful and important songwriters, and you're only in your midtwenties with just a couple of EPs under your belt, you've surely got to have the weight of the world on your shoulders as you speed towards releasing your debut. Then again, few individuals are Alexandra Lynn, aka Alex The Astronaut, who on 'The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing' delivers a masterclass in mixing bewitchingly beautiful melodies, honeysoaked harmonies and sublime storytelling songwriting. While there's a little bit of miss in between the plenty of hits, her understanding of her craft is second-to-none. Jack Press
Renaissance eeeef After nearly a decade as one half of AlunaGeorge, Aluna Francis is going it alone on her debut solo album 'Renaissance'. The first half of the record feels like an honouring of Aluna's roots in electronic music, but not in the conventional sense. 'Warrior' and 'Sneak' glisten with nu-disco grooves, and the euphoric 'Ain't My Business' takes the reins on where UK garage should be in 2020. Though the whole record feels exploratory, the second half is even more so. There's the gorgeous 'The Recipe' where neo-soul and dancehall marry, afrobeat stylings on 'Back Up' and 'Pressure, and ska on 'Surrender'. Each track is bold, ambitious and kaleidoscopic. Aluna rips up the rulebook on 'Renaissance' and shows anything is possible when you march to the beat of your own drum. Jasleen Dhindsa
Sugaregg eeeef On Bully's third album, Alicia Bognanno feels to have shifted gears. Not only standing out on her own, there's a tonal shift too. Previously, there's been an almost guttural, primal force simmering underneath, but now something's changed. There's still an urgency single 'Where To Start' is still a rattling good time, but even in the frustration there's a brighter hue. 'Hours and Hours', likewise, might be dealing with difficult emotions, but Bognanno confesses she's "not angry anymore". She's "not holding onto that". That's not to say everything is bright and breezy - but rather more accepting. "There is nothing I can do but relax and move on," she offers on 'Prism'. Self-aware and in control, 'SUGAREGG' is quintessentially Bully, and it's okay with that. Dan Harrison
Kelly Lee Owens Inner Song eeeef
Kelly Lee Owens’ second album ‘Inner song’ is a record born from elemental qualities and built up by the producer into a rich tapestry of beats, melodies and sounds that see her explore her musical psyche in ever deeper and more evocative ways. Samples and found sounds form the bedrock of a collection where Owens puts her voice and lyrics to the forefront. Stark, emotional and full of resonant honesty the result is a moving and tender record that still manages to bubble, rumble and thrill with ground shaking beats and idiosyncratic electronic flourishes. Everything is perfectly realised. From the gorgeous cover of Radiohead’s ‘Arpeggi’ to the emotional propulsive march of ’On’, it’s a striking step forward from an artist at the top of her game. Martyn Young
Faith eeeff From the very beginning, Hurts have found a natural home in the darkness. Their debut album ‘Happiness’ was a peerless slice of doom-pop, claiming that synth-shaped throne that seemed to pass hands regularly in the 80s - and brought about a new generation of acts following in their footsteps. There’s no doubt that ‘Faith’ feels the closest Hurts have come to reopening that curtain on their debut. Its heavy sense of chilling nights rings with power on ‘Somebody’, the pulsating tones of ‘Numb’ and ‘Voices’ towering with almost Eurovision-esque pop majesty. It’s a tone that Hurts have always been drawn towards; of cinematic storytelling and a wall of sound that harks back to pop’s golden years. This may not be the album that kicks in new doors, but it’s a welcome start. Jamie Muir readdork.com 67.
GO ON THEN,
OSCAR LANG TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR NEW ‘HAND
OVER YOUR HEAD’ EP
Hand Over Your Head EP eeeef The mind of Oscar Lang is one that continues to surprise and delight. We could leave the review right there, but turns out there’s so much more to say about Oscar’s latest EP. A shimmering collection of tracks that signals his intent to be pop’s unabashed showman, his emphatic world comes to the fore across five constantly shape-shifting tracks. From the pub-piano bubbles that morph into sample-chopped bounces on ‘Get Out’ to the fizzing pop charm of ‘Drinking Wine’ that feels long-lost pop gem from The Cure if they enjoyed frolics in the park - there’s a carefree spirit of creativity that flows through every fibre. Like opening up his mind to find a colourful box of different flavours, 'Hand Over Your Head' whets the appetite for what’s to come and then some. Jamie Muir 68. DORK
‘Apple Juice’ was the first track that was recorded for ‘Hand Over You Head’ and then kind of lead the way for how the rest of the ep would sound sonically, Rich Turvey and I penned and demoed this tune the first time we had ever worked together and I immediately knew that we were gonna make some bangers. We started by playing around with some influences and Beck came up as one of the big ones, so we started with this idea of a Beck-y type tune about Apple Juice and it turned into what it is now. We recorded loads of additional sounds on a lot of this EP and that laugh that gets repeated was actually a genuine one from a slightly questionable vocal take. ‘Get Out’ was written in January of this year but has now taken on a whole new meaning haha. I originally wrote it as a kind of song to myself about getting out a bit more. I spent a lot of my teenage years inside playing video games and making music and now I think my spine has bent due to me being hunched over a desk all that time. However, I could have never predicted that everyone in the world would be spending the next 4 months inside hunched over a desk, and now I guess the song has meaning for everyone. ‘Drinking Wine’ is a tune I’ve been sitting on for almost two years now, it’s actually one of the tracks that I showed Dirty Hit before I signed. We’ve been playing it live for so long now it feels amazing that we finally managed to capture that sweaty-live show essence in the recording. Playing live massively influenced the sound of this record, as with
previous records I made the music and then thought about playing it live later. But now this whole EP was recorded with a band style arrangement to be able to replicate it live. Shame there’s not really any proper gigs till next year :(((( ‘I Feel Good’ is another track that we’ve been playing live for years now as well, in fact I think we played this song at our first ever gig. It’s always been this super short but super punchy lil song in the middle of the set, which I would make up the lyrics for as we played every time we played it. So when deciding the tracklist for this EP and piecing together that it was a band-style EP I knew it was a must. The final track ‘Velvet Dreams’ was never intended to be one of my songs actually haha. I made a demo for the track that had been slowed and pitch shifted and wanted to make music using a pitch shifted low down voice so I uploaded it onto Soundcloud under the name ‘The Aubergine Party Collective’. I ended up liking the track so much that I put it on my main Soundcloud and it has found its way onto this record. This is definitely the most atmospheric tune on the EP and I wanted to have a kind of grandiose ending, so Rich Turvey and I used loads of different sounds on this one, there’s a mellotron doing the organ like sweeping, there’s a vocoder in the chorus to beef out my vocal and there’s actually a whip crack in there too. We ended up actually keeping some of the vibe of the original demo by recording the drums really fast into a Tascam 388 and running them back out but slowed down to create that lo-fi drum sound. P
Taylor Swift Folklore
eeeee An Indie Record that's much cooler than yours...
he surprise drop really shouldn't be so much of a surprise anymore. After
all, it's not like the AAA list needs much build up to garner a whole heap of pre-game hype. But with 'folklore', Taylor Swift has done far more than just shock us with an unexpected release - she's changed the rules of her game. Sure, every uninspired scribbler will make the same gag - the one about the indie record and how cool it is vis-a-vis 'others', but in working with indie luminaries The National's Aaron Dessner, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Swifty hasn't co-opted someone else's cool or felt a need to borrow credibility from a bunch of older men. Indeed, 'folklore' might be the most honest
and forthright example of her formidable songwriting ability to date. An album packed with so much raw emotion it almost creates a need for the turmoil required to fully lose yourself in it, it's a subtly different, more organic prism through which to view an often undersold talent. From the shimmering reflections of 'mirrorball' and its bitter-sweet ode to changing oneself to fit in, to the magnificent 'the last great american dynasty' - seriously, kids, don't go round painting dogs green the highlights are multitude. Opener 'the 1' has an easy going vibe only slightly belied by considerations of a potential life left behind, while 'my tears ricochet' and it's funeral like iconography echo back to Taylor's repeating desire to kill off old iterations as she moves forwards to something better. Of course, there will always be some who refuse to acknowledge the obvious - but 'folklore' is painted with a palette that makes Taylor's brightest talents shine all the brighter. With her country roots tethered to a subtly different wagon, there's more honesty and sincerity than would be found in most socalled 'alternative' releases. A surprise, but in the best possible way. Stephen
The ‘Details’ Release date: 21st August 2020 Label: Dead Oceans Tracklisting: 1. Pageturners Rag 2. Dance and Sing 3. Just Once in the World 4. Mariana Trench 5. One and Done 6. Pan and Broom 7. Stairwell Song 8. Persona Non Grata 9. Tilt-A-Whirl 10. Hot Car in the Sun 11. Forced Convalescence 12. To Death's Heart (In Three Parts) 13. Calais to Dover 14. Comet Song
T Bright Eyes
Down In The Weeds Where The World Once Was
eeeee 70. DORK
here was a slightly anticlimactic air about the way Bright Eyes exited the scene back in 2011, ‘The People’s Key’ making for a disappointingly subdued farewell to the beloved Omaha indie-folk-slashrockers after a string of albums that could warm even the coldest of hearts. With frontman
Conor Oberst barely sitting still in the intervening years, enjoying collabs with the likes of Phoebe, alt-J and First Aid Kit as well as his own successful solo career, it
seemed like that was that. But with news of their return in January coming just one week before MCR also announced that they were back! back!! back!!!, 2020 looked like it was going to be one hell of a year. Who knew. Nostalgia is lovely for a while of course, but it sometimes doesn’t take long before it’s got you staring awkwardly at your shoes while you think about how old everyone got. Thankfully then, ’Down In The Weeds’ is more than just that. Sure, the first rush of emotion hits hard when the familiar
crackle of vulnerability in Oberst’s voice arrives, but there is still plenty here to keep things fresh. Always capable of mixing the most mundane moments in with the big questions, songs pivot from pondering existence and geo-politics to describing making celery soup. Most of all, it just sounds like a band that are enjoying being a band again, no longer in danger of going through the motions. The mix of the freewheeling lyrical style of their later work hit the sweetest of spots when they collide with their hook-
laden tendencies of their peak on moments like ‘One And Done’ and ‘Mariana Trench’ while ‘Dance And Sing’ sits alongside some of their very best. Evocative and cinematic, romantic and poetic, it’s (another) minor tragedy of 2020 in that it makes for the perfect gentle festival hangover cure in a year where we can’t have them. Like much of normality, it will have to wait for now. But damn, it’s still good to have them back and shining brightly once more. Jamie
The Magic Gang Death of the Party
he Magic Gang have always felt a bit like a band plucked from another time. That's not to say
there's anything dated about them - they've always been lemony fresh - but more their use of melody has a timeless purity that defies the grubby underbelly of trend-chasing movements and algorithm baiting facsimiles. With their debut album, they soared high - peaking just outside the Top 10 at a time where bundles of enthusiasm weren't regularly scoring high chart placings for bands of this parish. Their follow-up, 'Death of the Party', is an evolution - a maturing of their craft. A record packed with soul and ambition,
edges smoothed, ideas sharpened. There's a genuine warmth to the brassy, bright 'Make Time For Change', a tale of self-love and betterment away from the scroll of the feeds. In many ways, it's a rallying call of the whole record. "You reap the benefits of what you sow," it proclaims, ahead of what's going to be a "big year". While the latter might be on hold, the sentiment holds true. 'Take Back The Track', all hand claps and hip shakes, is The Magic Gang at their very, very best. Swaying and crooning at one point, strutting and nodding at the other, it's a wholesome signature from a band who know exactly who they are. There's nobody else that would offer up anything like 'Think' - an ode to cool thoughts and sure minds that can't help but raise a smile, or the slow burning, heart-string tugging 'The World (Outside My Door)'. 'Death of the Party' isn't an album about endings, it's one more concerned with beginnings. A statement of intent, of a desire to improve, do more, be better in both ourselves and to each other. In an angry world reaching boiling point with each new set of headlines, it's a message that fits The Magic Gang well. As everyone else rushes by, they're a band who take a moment to stop and consider. We should cherish them for it. Stephen Ackroyd
COMING SOON The Lemon Twigs
Songs For The General Public eeeff Following on from a concept album about the strenuous journey of a chimpanzee raised like a human by his adopted wannabe rock star parents, you wouldn't be surprised if The Lemon Twigs delved even deeper into their delightful minds and reinterpreted altogether the idea of what a modern-day album looks like. Instead, on 'Songs for the General Public', the D'Addario brothers return to a structure more similar to their debut. That's not to say, however, that the band have lost any of their extravagance, their trademark glam theatricality remaining well intact: it's a record that will no doubt find and delight an audience as passionate and as colourful as its creators. Dominic Allum
Troye Sivan In A Dream EP eeeee
We've all got that mate - you know the one - pint in hand, boorish expression on their face, fighting some selfimagined war against 'pop'. But pop, Dear Reader, is not the anodyne, plastic machine as Robbie Real Music would have you believe. Pop is art. Take Troye Sivan's new release - an exploration of emotions, it's a showcase of one of the most inventive and vital minds pushing the creative edges of mainstream culture. Opener 'Take Yourself Home' starts as a delicate vibe, and ends with a grinding growl; 'Easy' shimmers through the heat haze melancholy and raw. 'could cry just thinkin about you' provides a more organic, lo-fi texture, but it's closer and title-track 'IN A DREAM' that really thumps through - bright, boppy and defiant. That's pop at it's very best. Stephen Ackroyd
Duckwrth Supergood eeeff
Duckwrth’s debut was titled ‘I’m Uugly’, and the followup mixtape ‘An Xtra Uugly Mixtape’, so ‘Supergood’ is a break with tradition right off the bat. The switch in naming protocol signals more than just new found self-confidence, though. ‘Supergood’ is his most complete project to date. The overriding theme is one of an eternal hazy summer afternoon, with Duckwrth’s native LA weather bleeding through as funky production pushes him on. If you go into ‘Supergood’ looking for a huge variety of songs or one stand-out banger, you’ll be disappointed. If you think of it more as a mood board, you’ll find yourself listening to a perfectly curated ‘Chilled Out Summer Hip-Hop’ playlist, just one that happens to have all been made by the same artist. Jake Hawkes
Disclosure Energy eeeef
Kicking off with 'Watch Your Step', featuring none other than Kelis, Disclosure are not here to fuck around as they open 'Energy' with its most bombastic track. It's an instant classic, with breakbeats that make you yearn for pre-pandemic club nights. Kelis isn't the only impressive name-check Disclosure have managed to rope in with their third effort; other heavyweight collabs include Aminé and slowthai on the fast-paced hip house 'My High', and Kehlani and Syd on the sexy R&B slow jam of 'Birthday'. For the first time, the Lawrence brothers also delve into the multilingual realm as on 'Mali Mali' and 'Ce N'est Pa', where the sonic soundscape shifts into a refreshing yet unknown territory. The duo's most eclectic album to date, 'Energy' truly embodies its namesake. Jasleen Dhindsa
The Flaming Lips American Head eeeef
When you've spent your entire career undergoing an identity crisis, one that's included producing an album with renegade pop star Miley Cyrus, a collection of songs with Deap Vally, and an album of starstudded Beatles covers; you'd be forgiven for fretting that The Flaming Lips may have finally burst their bubble. Their sixteenth album, 'American Head' sees frontman Wayne Coyne wondering what the world would look like if Tom Petty had purchased drugs from his old brother in the early seventies, and the songs they would sing. The result is a wistful waltz through neopsychedelia, dream-pop and lo-fi that is quite possibly their finest concoction since they battled those pink robots. It's a trip very much worth taking. Jack Press
N E W RELEAS ES TO ST I C K IN YOUR D IARY.
18 TH S EPT EMB ER A.Swayze & The Ghosts Paid Salvation Be No Rain – Strawberry Backstory Cults - Host Fenne Lily - BREACH Gus Dapperton - Orca Sunship Balloon Everywhen'
2 5 TH S EPT EMB ER Caro - Burrows Idles - Ultra Mono Jamie Lenman - King Of Clubs Pillow Queens - In Waiting Sad13 - Haunted Painting Sufjan Stevens - The Ascension SuperM - Super One Sylvan Esso - Free Love Will Butler - Generations
2 ND O CTO B ER All Things Blue – Get Bit BLACKPINK – The Album Corey Taylor - CMFT The Hunna – I’d Rather Die Than Let You In Jónsi – Shiver LANY - Mama's Boy Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison mxmtoon – dusk EP Shamir - Shamir Walt Disco – Young Hard and Handsome EP The Wytches - Three Mile Ditch Thunder Jackson Thunder Jackson Working Men's Club Working Men's Club 16 TH O CTO B ER Annie – Dark Hearts beabadoobee – Fake It Flowers IDKHOW - Razzmatazz Molly Payton - Porcupine EP Sinead O’Brien – Drowning In Blessings EP 2 3 R D O CTO B ER Boy Pablo – Wachito Rico
The ‘Details’ Release date: 21st August 2020 Label: EMI Tracklisting: 1. My Own Soul’s Warning 2. Blowback 3. Dying Breed 4. Caution 5. Lightning Fields (feat. kd lang) 6. Fire In Bone 7. Running Towards A Place 8. My God (feat. Weyes Blood) 9. When The Dreams Run Dry 10. Imploding The Mirage
S The Killers
Imploding The Mirage
Make sure you check out these albums from the last few months.
eemingly energised from their triumphant Glastonbury 2019 headliner and liberated by the political awakening of standalone single' Land of the Free', 21st-century heroes The Killers have left Las Vegas and torn up their rulebook on 'Imploding the Mirage'. An array of
guest vocalists and a new production team have set Flowers and co.'s imaginations free after five years treading
water creatively. While the songwriting is instantly recognisable, this time round, everything packs more of a punch. Opener 'My Own Soul's Warning' is trademark Flowers, sprightly synths and booming choruses begging to be chanted in festival fields. 'Blowback' evokes Fleetwood Mac's knack for melody, with Lyndsey Buckingham later popping up on the anthemic single 'Caution' for a thrilling guitar solo.
Continuing their knack of perfect lead singles (all hail 'The Man'), 'Caution' is a solid addition to the Killers' swollen stadium setlist, for which new releases primarily exist to serve. 'Fire in Bone' cruises over a funky groove from secret weapon Mark Stoermer on bass, before Weyes Blood, kd lang and Lucius bring heavenly harmonies to the military beat of 'My God', "Don't talk to me about forgiveness, my god, look who's back in business."
Indeed. There's a fervour in the delivery of these songs that's been somewhat missing since 2008's weird and wonderful 'Day and Age'. While unlikely to rank as most people's favourite Killers record, this is certainly the most vital the band have sounded in a decade. By moving out of Vegas and opening themselves up to collaborators, The Killers end up bringing it all back home. Dillon Eastoe
Full of fetish, flamboyance and apocalypse, Creeper have escalated the grandiosity of their music with pure pomp.
This promising new foursome are moving forth with optimism as they hold a mirror up to a damaged world.
It’s exciting to see a band so unabashedly ambitious in their sound and delivery on a debut. ‘Open Up Your Head’ is a revelation.
'Lie Out Loud' fizzes with immediacy. From sugar-rush '5000 Miles' to ear-worm 'Hey Jenny', there's a confident ease throughout.
Sex, Death & The Infinite Void
I Slept On The Floor
Open Up Your Head
Lie Out Loud
This month, it's...
Rachel Chinouriri Yes, Dear Reader. We enjoy those 'in depth' interviews as much as anyone else. But - BUT we also enjoy the lighter side of music, too. We simply cannot go on any longer without knowing what Rachel Chinouriri has in her fridge. So we asked her. See? What was the first record you bought? Coldplay’s ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’.
If you won the lottery, what would you spend the cash on?
A house, a business, and then charity work.
What was the last thing you broke? My mental health.
Which defunct band would you most like to reform?
Oasis, it will be an absolute miracle, but there is still hope.
Do you believe in aliens?
Absolutely. Maybe we are the aliens?
What is the best present you’ve ever been given?
A golden guitar pick with my name on it during a Secret Santa (shout out to Chiara).
When’s your birthday? 1st November.
How do you feel about Marmite? Next question.
Who’s your favourite pop star? Probably Astrid S or Raye.
What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
Paper round because there are literally no days off… Christmas, New Year, you always have to be up at 6am every day.
What’s your biggest fear?
Close call between moths and heights - I cannot be in a room with a moth of any size.
What is your earliest memory?
My dad taking me to Toys “R” Us.
If you could have a
superpower of your choosing, what would it be? Invisibility.
What’s your fave TV show?
You. (It’s Netflix, but I don’t really watch TV, I usually just watch documentaries.)
dodgy diet as a teen).
Avocado and parma ham.
What did you last dream about?
Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
I don’t remember my dreams, and if I do, they’re weird as hell and usually predict future events.
How punk are you out of ten?
Have you ever been to a showbiz party?
A soft 3 to light 4.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
Probably a criminal psychologist or detective. My goal in life is to be an amazing mother, but that doesn’t pay the bills so a criminal psychologist or a detective.
Had a panic attack in Kokoro toilets with my boyfriend of a couple months and best friend after I got acid reflux from eating their food (it wasn’t their fault, I just had a
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
What’s your favourite sandwich filling?
What’s in your fridge right now? Nothing interesting, some avocado, eggs, maybe some take away I’m saving for lunch.
Can you dance?
It depends on who’s judging my dancing ability.
Tell us a secret about yourself?
My ears are two different shapes. P
Rachel Chinouriri’s new project is out later this year.
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